It was supposed to be a 10/15 minutes interview but, to our great pleasure, it turned out to be a pleasant chat of over one hour. We’re talking about the time we had the chance to spend with Alex Reinhard and Sébastien Reuille. The two guys who are coaching the Ticino Rockets in their most difficult season. Namely, the one that for the first time included the relegation.

We settled down in their office after the training session we talked about in our article “An afternoon with the Rockets”. It’s a private environment, in which the two coaches surely spend a lot of time.

In the office, there are two desks, computers, papers, some sweets – “let’s hope our players don’t follow our diet” will stress the two amused coaches at some point – and the blackboard with the potential line-up for the next game. A blackboard that is certainly cause of mixed feelings for the two coaches, who are basically like two full time national team coaches. Considering that, oftentimes, they just don’t know what players they can have on their disposal for the next game.

The interview starts and we immediately ask the most difficult question. But unfortunately, it’s also the easiest one. We wanted to focus on the mental side, that is crucial in modern hockey, and we asked how they can keep up the morale of the players when they suffer so many defeats one after another.

And that was the moment when the first “problem” occurred. Sébastien decided to make our “work” more difficult and easier at the same time. Just like when he was a player, he pushed forward in a gritty way and… and basically, he answered already some of our next following questions.

At that point, we realized that it was impossible to make an interview. After all, Sébastien is – other than a coach and a great former player – a fantastic person. Therefore, we started to chat without following a very precise pattern.

One thing became clear immediately, anyway. His work is not a walk in the park “It’s not easy to handle so many defeats, both for us as coaches and for the whole club, this is something new”, said Sébastien. He also wanted to add something though “basically always, with few exceptions, we lost with only a 1-goal margin and we stood up to the strongest teams of the league. Moreover, we also achieved some impressive results. For example, we earned few wins for the first time in history against some clubs! Paradoxically, we struggle more against the teams that are battling in the lower part of the table. I think it’s safe to say that when we can win – we are very good, but when we must win – we’re not good enough.”.

Among the reasons for this, the lack of consistency “it’s a word I really like”, said Sébastien, and the “lack of experience”.

Sébastien is also at his first experience as a staff member and therefore he is still learning a lot. He stressed that on his own, adding beautiful words towards Alex Reinhard “he’s helping me a lot, I’m learning a lot from him”.

Knock, knock… speak of the “devil” and he shall appear 🙂

After approximately 15 minutes in fact, Alex Reinhard joined us. Our idea was to make two different interviews, but how could we miss the opportunity of having both coaches in the same room all for us?

With all respect, I immediately asked Alex Reinhard if he wanted to sit down on his chair that I was occupying. He was very gentle, and answered “No no, no problem, stay there”. With hindsight though, considering that the chat became quite long, it’s likely that he regretted the fact that he allowed me to sit there 🙂

Here we are then, with Alex Reinhard and Sébastien Reuille.

The two guys confirmed that they didn’t know each other before this season and before they had started to work for the Ticino Rockets. But they also confirmed that they felt immediately very good. In fact, they make a good pair even though their job is so darn complicated.

Alex Reinhard confirmed as well, that “It’s not easy to handle all the defeats. We try to keep up to morale of the players when necessary by organizing training sessions that involve also some fun moment”.

Alex then, wanted to add that too “oftentimes we lose tight games. Moreover, we’re able to deliver very good performances against the toughest teams of the league. We’re so close to turn the hard work into more points”.

Both coaches then, wanted to talk about a very important thing. A factor that is not only important, but probably is the cause for the “poor” results.

There is a group of players that is always with us. Overall though, it’s very complicated to choose the line-up. Way too often, we don’t know which players we can count on until the last moment.”

After all, the Ticino Rockets are the Swiss League team that used the highest number of players. Over 40… The collaboration with the clubs, Lugano, Ambrì-Piotta, Davos and Lausanne, are good though.

Suffice it to see how many players play with us and then succeed in the National League. Then again, the ideal situation for us is the collaboration with Lausanne. The Vaudois provided us with several players that stay with us for the whole season. From Lausanne they inform themselves regularly, they see the progresses and are happy with the development. From our side, it’s important that there are more players who can stay always with us. The collaboration, anyway, is good with all clubs. With Davos as well. The Ibexes this year have many forwards in their roster, and several times sent players to us who did well and then came back to make the difference in the National League”.

Then, perhaps, higher attendances at the Raiffeisen BiascArena could help. Right?

The guys would deserve higher attendances. In every way. It would be a confidence booster also to win more games”.

It’s a delicate topic, the one of attendances. From our side, we wanted to stress that – willy-nilly – attendances are very similar to the ones of EVZ Academy and GCK Lions. The other two purely “farm teams” of the Swiss League. And that it’s difficult to attract more people.

Then again, considering that this team represents the whole Ticino – other than Davos and Lausanne – and it’s a great chance for all the young players, more people at the games would be a great incentive not only for the players but also for whoever is working for this club on and off the ice. And frankly speaking, they would all deserve more fans.

This team must have a future. And when it comes to the future, we wanted to ask Alex and Sébastien if it’s possible to imagine, in the future, a youth organization of the Ticino Rockets that involves all the best players.

Alex and Sébastien confirmed that “there were talking about creating a team of Elite-Jr of the Ticino Rockets but it’s difficult more than that. It would be a nice thing. Moreover, frankly speaking, it would help us when we’re short of players. We could use the opportunity to give Juniors a chance.”

We mean, Alex Reinhard and Sébastien Reuille live the project 100% and believe in this reality based in Biasca.

Even though they both have a one-year contract. A year that, whatever happens, is turning out to be very intense. The two guys, who again didn’t know each other, are having an adventure they could write a book about. And even learned to know each other. And considering that now they do know each other, what do they think about each other?

Both feel to stress that their relation is “a very nice surprise”, as they collaborate very well together. But what are their qualities and the flaws?

Sébastien says that “I’m learning a lot from Alex, he’s very prepared and knows hockey very well. He always goes on his way. Then again, at times I need to calm him down because he’s a very instinctive person… after, anyway, he becomes reasonable” 🙂

And Alex, what does he think about Reuille? “Sébastien is a hard-working experienced guy who also helps me to understand the point of view of the players which is something I don’t consider sometimes. I struggle to find a flaw, he’s an added value. Moreover, he’s basically a Ticinese, he knows people and the mentality of here”. So, Sébastien is perfect, no flaws? “Perhaps at times with the refs…” 🙂

They seriously make a nice pair. A pair that now has a mission to accomplish. Save the Ticino Rockets!

Both, regardless of their past and their future, really have at heart this team and this reality other than Ticino. In this regard, there is something very nice Alex Reinhard told us when we were discussing about the language the coaches use in the dressing room. Alex in fact, said that they tend to use English because of convenience, but it would be fair to speak in Italian because we are in Ticino.

In fact, they tried to speak Italian at first… but the experiment didn’t last long. And at this time, frankly speaking, it doesn’t really matter what language is spoken in the dressing room. The important thing is to work hard in order to achieve the target.

Well, that’s it, guys. Our afternoon with the Rockets came to an end. There was still time to have a talk with the two available coaches, who we thank so much for the availability and friendliness showed.

We wish them and the Ticino Rockets all the best for the last part of the season and for the future!