Adrenaline announce Sami Mantere as new head coach
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - Submitted by Adrenaline Staff
An old player will be the new face behind the bench for the Adelaide Adrenaline Ice Hockey Club this season.
Sami Mantere, a former import Adrenaline player and current manager of the Ice Factor Program, is set to take the reigns as the head coach of the club.
"It's a great challenge ahead of me," says Mantere. "I'm really looking forward to seeing the boys get to work."
Sami takes over for interim head coach Eric Lien who stepped in last year mid-season. Coach Lien and his wife recently had a third young child and in the volunteer world of Ice Hockey the committment was just "too much".
But the Adrenaline are ecstatic with the appointment of the Finnish coach. Adrenaline President Eric Balnar says Sami is his "dream choice" for coach of the club.
"He's very well connected," says Balnar. "He has almost a decade of hockey experience in South Australia specifically. He has played in AIHL, runs a very-well respected Ice Hockey program and is one of the most qualified coaches in the country."
"I'm not sure there are many people in the Ice Hockey community that are more respected than Sami," he said.
Sami is Finnish born and moved to Adelaide in 2009. He played on the Adrenaline that season and tallied 33 points in just 19 games en route to a Goodall Cup. That was Adelaide's last championship and Sami hopes to be bring the next one home this season.
His background is rich with experience. He grew up playing for the most prestigious Ice Hockey Club in Finland - Jokerit HC - where he played with some current NHLers. He also went to a university where coaching was a big part of the program.
Sami says he is hoping to use his seven years of local experience in South Australia to help coach the team.
"I think I'm in a position where I know the players in the state quite well. The older players I've played with for a few successful years and the younger guys I've coached for several years. I'd like to think that I know fairly well what each player's strengths and weaknesses are," he says.
Sami's SA career has been quite decorated. He has won back-to-back A-Grade championships with the Red Wings the last two IHSA seasons and has now started his own local club called The Jokers.
In addition to this, he manages the highly regarded and wildly successful "Ice Factor" program which brings the classroom to the Ice Rink. He has also been highly involved in junior development in this state.
Sami says last year's bottom place result does not factor in to his expectations of the club moving forward.
"I don't really want to dwell on the past," he says. "My expectation to this team is just as high as it would be if we finished as champions. What I think is realistic to this team is to make it to the AIHL finals weekend and win the last game of the season. Obviously that's not going to be easy but that has to be the goal for this club from the first off ice training session do."
Of course, getting there will not be easy. Sami says it will take a lot of hard work and structure.
"I'm looking at implementing structures that have worked well in Europe and North America... not just Finland. The game itself has changed quite a bit over the last 10 years. It is a lot more focused on transition and puck movement. We want to move the puck quickly up the ice and if we lose the puck we need to be ready to win it back as soon as possible," he says.
Balnar says that after many discussions it's quite evident Sami has the full support of everyone at every level - from the players, to the board, to the sponsors to the Ice Hockey community.
"Last year was a very difficult season for us. I think the last place finish could be a good thing for us in the long run," he says. "I'm hoping this kicks us into gear. Nothing his handed to us in this league. It takes a lot of discipline, patience and hard work to win the Goodall Cup."