Slovenia finds its coach

Ivo Jan to lead national team

06.08.2018
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Ivo Jan already worked as an assistant coach for the Slovenian national team in 2016. Photo: Miroslaw Ring

The Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia has a new head coach for the men’s national team. After the hiring of Matjaz Kopitar didn’t work out, Ivo Jan will lead the team in the upcoming season.

Jan and the federation have reached an agreement for one season with the option for a second year.

Ivo Jan is a household name in Slovenian hockey. His father carried the same name at the three Olympics for Yugoslavia and Ivo Jan Jr. continued with a playing career that included 11 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments including three at the top division.

When Slovenia reached the top division for the first time in history in 2002, it was also thanks to Jan, who was the team’s scoring leader with 15 goals and 18 points in Division I play in 2001. His scoring quality also continued at the top level where he scored eight goals in 15 World Championship games.

Jan won several Slovenian championships with Olimpija Ljubljana before having stints in bigger European leagues like in Austria, Finland, Germany and Switzerland. In 2004 he was the goal scoring leader of the Austrian league with the Graz 99ers.

In 2011 he ended his career as a player with Olimpija Ljubljana where he started his coaching career as an assistant coach before having stints with his old club Graz 99ers in Austria and in Crimmitschau in Germany. Since 2017 he’s been the head coach of the Sterzing Broncos from Italy who play in the Alps Hockey League.

Jan was also an assistant coach of Nik Zupancic at the Slovenian national team at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A where the team won and earned promotion.

“The offer to lead the national team is surely tempting. It’s a new step in my coaching career. The decision was difficult on one hand as I am aware of the tasks ahead of me, and on the other hand it's easy because I know the majority of the players from the World Championship [Division I Group A] in Poland, and I have also played some of them in my acting career. I believe our co-operation will be good,” the 43-year-old said.

His club team agreed that Jan can coach the Slovenian national team during the international breaks and sees it from the positive side that the coach can use Sterzing as a springboard as did one of his predecessors at the Broncos. The last Sterzing coach Clayton Beddoes has become Italy’s national coach.

Ivo Jan’s task will be to bring Slovenia back to the top level. Slovenia missed out on promotion last spring and will play against Belarus, Korea, host Kazakhstan, Hungary and Lithuania at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Astana from 29th April to 5th May 2019.

MARTIN MERK

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