Australia will face Türkiye early Tuesday morning (4 am AEST) in a battle for first place in Group B. The winner will face the last-placed Group A team; the loser will face the third-placed Group A team.
Australia will be the favourites heading into the match, having destroyed Bosnia and Herzegovina 12-1 and South Africa 13-1 in their opening matches.
Türkiye is also undefeated, winning 8-2 over South Africa and 6-4 over Bosnia and Herzegovina in a close contest.
Bosnia Herzegovina and South Africa will be looking to avoid the bottom of Group B in their final match of the tournament’s first phase.
Meanwhile, in Group A, Chinese Taipei looks to wrap up the top spot in their final match against cellar-dwellers Kyrgyzstan. Mexico plays Israel to determine second and third placing.
By the Numbers
Australia boasts seven of the top ten points scorers in the tournament. Benjamin Handberg, Dmitri Kuleshov, Riley Langille, and Arum Rapchuk have powered the offence, scoring four goals each.
11 different Aussies have found the back of the net in Queretaro, proof that they can generate offence up and down the lineup.
The coaching staff set the team goals for the tournament in three specific areas: process, performance, and attitude.
Comparing the team’s performance with their targets gives insight into areas that, if improved, could lead to even better results.
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First of all, the team set the target to score at least three goals per game. After 12 and 13-goal performances thus far, consider this target achieved.
Defensively the target is to allow less than two goals per game. The team has met this objective, allowing only a solitary goal in each of their first two matches.
Shot volume is the focus of the next goal, with the aim to generate at least 30 shots on net per game, 10 per period. Australia has nearly doubled that target, with 59 shots in both games, including at least 16 shots per period.
Shot suppression is the next goal, which is to limit the opposition to 15 shots or less. Australia surpassed those targets, allowing eight shots against Bosnia and Herzegovina and six shots against South Africa.
For goaltending, the goal is to achieve a save rate of 93 per cent. Currently, the rate sits at just under 86 per cent. It’s a small sample size, but if Australia can boost that number even slightly, they will be in good shape this tournament.
Discipline receives the focus for the next target. Australia’s goal is to take less than four minutes of penalties per game. So far, it has taken 16 and 8 minutes worth of penalties in their games.
While it is true that this is unideal, and greater discipline will benefit the team, it must be noted that in each of their games Australia has taken fewer penalty minutes than its opposition.
Special teams’ goals are to score on 50 per cent of powerplays and maintain a 100 per cent penalty kill.
The team has maintained a 100 per cent penalty kill, killing off all 11 powerplay opportunities. The team has created offence on the penalty kill, with a shorthanded goal in each of their two games.
Australia has converted on five of 14 powerplay opportunities for a conversion rate of 35.71 per cent. That number, impressive as it is, is fourth best amongst tournament teams.
Türkiye holds the highest powerplay conversion rate at 42.86 per cent.
Finding that one per cent
Australia’s Assistant Coach Jason Kvisle told The Inner Sanctum on the Net, Sticks, and Chill podcast that his favourite book is Atomic Habits.
That book, by James Clear, discusses the powerful effect of small, incremental improvements.
The tournament’s second phase will likely be more challenging for Australia. Margins of victory will be smaller; the consequences for defensive breakdowns and indiscipline will be greater.
The coaching staff have done a phenomenal job in driving the team to meet their lofty objectives. Many hours have been spent video editing and scouting the other teams in the tournament.
The game against Türkiye sets the tone for the remainder of the tournament. Australia likely prefers to face last-placed Kyrgyzstan than a dangerous Mexico or Israel in their next game.
Therefore, Head Coach Dave Ruck said, “the tournament really starts for us against Türkiye; we want to win that, finish first in our pool, and that will set us up for a good finals”.
It all starts tomorrow morning. Fans can stream the game at 4:30 am via YouTube; click here for the link.
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