The NLA’s surprise and top teams

The NLA’s surprise and top teams

Andreas Reiner06 Nov 2016Andreas Reiner»
 

In this first of a two part article we take a look at the who's been drawing some positive attention their way.

 
 
 
 

The Lions are on top of the League. This itself isn’t big news. Everyone expects them to be a contender to win the regular season and the title every year.

But there’s more to it than just sitting on top of the throne. Zurich have had their fair share of struggles. The new Swedish coaching duo Wallson/Johansson has implemented their own style of play. This means a lot of skating, fast skating. Not all players were able to face the challenge or adapt fast enough to the Swedish coaches. Newly acquired Inti Pestoni was taken off the team four weeks ago on a conditioning stint. Same thing for Mike Künzle. He had spent the whole summer serving his military service and wasn’t able to keep up with the new, high demands. Both players are expected to return to the team after the Deutschland-Cup. As for the rest of the team. Jonas Siegenthaler has returned from the Capitals training camp and will spend the rest of the season in Zurich.

With the current roster and the numerous youngsters in the pipeline, the future looks bright for the Lions but the question is: Are the players willing to pick up the challenge to fight for a roster spot on a team that is saturated by the massive talent.


Lausanne HC

Lausanne has rocketed to the top of the league in the first two months, proving critics wrong who had foreseen a difficult season after head coach Heinz Ehlers contract wasn’t extended. Instead, Canadian born Dan Ratushny removed the defensive shackles from the team and turned the Lions into an offensive powerhouse. Smart additions such as Jonas Junland made sure that the defense wouldn’t decay, he’s been a top 3 defenseman in the NLA so far. But the plans for Lausanne don’t end here. Long term plans are to build up a team that will be able to contend for a title in a new stadium. Owner Ken Stickney who became known when he stepped down as president of the Kloten Flyers (now EHC Kloten) and was hired in Lausanne is known to have good connections to Geneva’s GM Chris McSorley.

Lausanne have already started to build next seasons team with extending Joel Gennazi’s contract, signing Lukas Frick from Kloten and Sandra Zurkirchen from Ambri while Goalie legend Christobal Huet might just prolong his career for another season. He’s one of the reasons Lausanne find themselves in fourth place. Another reason is Lausanne’s offense. Joel Genazzi leads his team in scoring while 8 players on the team have 10 or more scoring points with 18 games played.


EHC Kloten

The turbulences surrounding the EHC Kloten after last season seem far away. Kloten find themselves on the 5th spot and have four players in the top 10 scoring list. GM Pascal Müller had a busy summer. With a new owner who was only willing to spend as much as they were taking his job of acquiring new players was an even bigger task. In addition, the team had to take a 10% salary cut to help recover the finances. It seems Müller did a good job. Veteran center Tommi Santala is experiencing a revival with a 1,17 points per game average (PPG). Only his captain, Denis Hollenstein has a higher average with 1,33 which makes him the leagues best.

The import players have impressed the most. Bobby Sanguinetti is the second best scoring defenseman while Drew Shore keeps scoring on a regular basis. Both players were complete nobodies and Müller took a risk when signing the AHL players to one-year contracts but so far both have convinced the fans and management. A player who was well known after last year was James Sheppard. He tried out with the Vancouver Canucks but wasn't signed. Kloten was happy to sign him to a one year contract and he will help to further improve the forwards. Klotens defense took a few hits when news spread that national team defenseman Patrick von Gunten would miss at least 3 months from the beginning. Tim Ramholt and Matthias Bieber, both veterans and important also missed at least a month after injuries and concussions but should be back either after the Deutschland Cup or new year at the latest.


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