ASHI would like to thank Andrew Hildreth for taking time to answer a few questions regarding the upcoming 2015 World Championships in Zug, Switzerland. Returning as Captain of the USA Mens Team, Andrew is regarded as one of the best all around ball hockey players in the USA and brings leadership and experience that is an asset to the entire team and coaching staff.
Andrew has had success at every level of ball hockey including winning the 2006 World Junior Championships with Team USA, named MVD at the 2009 ISBHF World Championships in Pilsen, Czech Republic, and selected 1st Team All Star honors at defense in the 2013 ISBHF World Championships in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
Andrew was a key player of the 2009 USA team that eliminated Canada in the quarterfinals. In 2010 Andrew had the opportunity to move to Zug, Switzerland and join the Oberwil Rebells in the National League A of the Swiss Street Hockey Association. Andrew jumped at the opportunity to further hone his ball hockey skills and do some studying abroad. After a couple years abroad, he moved back to Leominster, MA and continued to dominate the US ball hockey circuit.
The team’s first game is against Slovakia, the defending gold medal winners from 2013 championships in St. John’s, Canada. Do you prepare differently knowing the team will be tested this early in the week?
I wouldn’t say I’ve been preparing differently, rather I have been preparing much harder knowing we are playing the world’s best team since 2011. Slovakia is an absolute powerhouse and I think our preparation this year, which is far beyond past years, will give us extra motivation to make a statement early in the tournament. I think this will be my 8th or 9th time playing a Slovakian National team and it’s going to be very important to remember our not so successful record against them as we get closer to the ball drop.
Can you talk a little bit about the role of the captain of this team and the responsibility on and off the rink you have to keep the team united and focused on the task at hand.
It’s an honor to be named Captain again and with this group of guys, it’s going to be a fun tournament. This is going to be my 7th time around being involved with the world championships (6th tournament as a player and 1 as the coach for the U20 Junior Team in 2014). My experiences, both good and bad, are going to be sought after by a lot of our guys who haven’t been at this high level of play or even visited Europe before. Having lived there for three years along with playing against the best club teams in Switzerland, Slovakia and Czech Republic will show both on and off the rink.
My role on the rink needs to match why I got voted captain: confident, inspirational, effective and productive. Luckily, we have a ton of firepower and skill on offense and brick wall on the Blue Line to make my job easy. Off the rink, I need to lead by example as well as be a sort of tour-guide having lived in Zug for three years.
What goals do you have for this championship? Is it gold or bust?
As a team, Gold is our number one goal so making it to the gold-medal game is our number one objective. We have a lot of per-game goals set by Coach Corey Herschk that will give us a bit of direction for our game play. The number one personal goal I have set for myself is to be the best defenseman in the tournament; I just want to be a shutdown defender and make life for our goalies as easy as possible.
Article written by Kevin Cooley (Editor-In-Chief)