A new era
A new era
Captain Ambuhl looks to the future
It's a new-look Swiss roster in Moscow, with a host of World Championship rookies under the guidance of head coach Patrick Fischer, the first Swiss to take charge of the national team since Simon Schenk's two-year tenure in the mid-90s.
Amid such change, senior players like captain Andres Ambuhl, 32, offer vital continuity as the Alpine roster seeks to scale the peaks in Group A despite a slow start to the campaign.
And the HC Davos forward, a veteran of 12 previous World Championship campaigns, is excited by the changes in team Switzerland and looks forward to a bright future.
"We've got a lot of young guys, eight or nine players who are here at the Worlds for the first time," he said. "That's our future. Even some big players like Nino [Neiderreitter] are still young, even if they've played a lot of hockey for Switzerland."
Neiderreitter, still just 23, is back for his third Worlds and also played in the Sochi Olympics after breaking into senior hockey as a 17-year-old when he was called into Ambuhl's Davos team for the 2009 NLA play-off campaign. In this year's tournament he has further cemented his reputation for grabbing important goals, but he's not the only 23-year-old with NHL experience making an impact in Moscow.
There are also bright talents like Sven Andrighetto, 23, fresh from a busy NHL campaign in Montreal where he suited up 44 times for the Canadiens. Following a confident display against Latvia, where he bagged a goal and two assists in a 5-4 Swiss win, Andrighetto was revelling in the excitement of his first World Championship.
"It's my first time here and it's definitely a lot different than the NHL," he said. "It's been a fantastic year for me, playing a lot for Montreal and going up against the best players in the world every night. It's making me an even better player."
That's the kind of confidence that Ambuhl has noticed among his new team-mates - and it's something that makes his role that much easier.
"We've got a young roster but I'm not feeling any extra pressure on me," he said. "All the guys have their own experience and they are all leaders in their clubs. Everyone understands what's needed.
"Of course I'm a little older, so if there's something that needs saying I'll try to saying, but basically everyone understands what we should be doing."
Part of that understanding comes from the input of Fischer behind the bench. When asked about working under a home-grown coach after so many years playing for Ralph Krueger, Sean Simpson and finally Glenn Hanlon, Ambuhl smiles. "The biggest difference is the language!"
That's not intended as a slur on what any of the coaches have brought, simply a recognition that hockey success goes beyond national boundaries. "It's nice to have a Swiss coach but in the end hockey is hockey," Ambuhl added. "Teams need to refresh themselves, but in the end it doesn't matter where a coach comes from as long as he is winning games and getting the best from his players."
And even where results have been uneven in Moscow, Ambuhl is confident that the roster has the quality to succeed here.
"We're getting better and there's a lot of character in this team," he said. "When we've gone behind we've found ways to get something from games, and when teams came back on us we stayed calm and got back into the game."
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