Archive for Switz – Schlittschuh Club Zuerich

Seven Games In Switzerland


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SC Zurich goaltender LUKAS FLUEELER (30), the 23-year-old, one-time Ottawa 67s netminder who would later be named to the Switzerland senior national team for the 2012 IIHF World Championships in Scandinavia, fans out with the pads to deny SC Bern forward JOEL VERMIN (92), the 20-year-old youngster who has represented Switzerland at the last two IIHF World Junior Championships, a scoring chance at the side of the net during the National League A’s final playoff series match contested at the world-renowned PostFinance Arena in Bern.
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The final series of the National League A playoffs featured a pair of upstarts in SC BERN and SC ZURICH, neither of whom had ended the Swiss regular season even ranked among the top four teams in the standings. Nevertheless, this particular encounter still produced an epic battle that raged back and forth from the PostFinance Arena in Bern to the Hallenstadion in Zurich until the issue could be finally settled. The memorable, see-saw struggle would continue unabated, in fact, up until the very last seconds of the decisive seventh game.

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Game One (Bern) … SC BERN 4 – SC ZURICH 2
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SC Bern winger J.P. DUMONT (17), the first round pick of the New York Islanders and third player taken overall at the 1996 National Hockey League Draft who went on to total 214 goals for the Chicago Black Hawks, Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators before arriving in the National League A to start this season, snapped a 1-1 tie with his second goal of the game late in the second period. The 34-year-old NHL veteran then assisted on SC Bern’s third for defenseman PHILIPPE FURRER, a former sixth round draft pick of the New York Rangers, seven minutes into the final frame before long-time Switzerland national team performer MARTIN PLUESS, a constituent of Furrer in Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, added a fourth with nine minutes remaining. SC Zurich pulled a power play goal back via ANDRES AMBUEHL, the one-time New York Rangers farmhand who spent the 2009/10 campaign with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the American Hockey League, three minutes from time … BYRON RITCHIE, the 35-year-old journeyman with more than 300 NHL games under his belt, registered three assists although, significantly, these would the last points that SC Bern’s PostFinance Topskorer would record in the 2012 NLA playoffs … RETO SCHAEPPI, who scored five goals for SC Zurich during the regular season, had tied the game for the visiting Lions with his fourth goal of the playoffs shortly past the midway mark of the second period.
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Game Two (Zurich) … SC ZURICH 2 – SC BERN 1
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SC Zurich winger THIBAUT MONNET (above), the 2010 Vancouver Olympian who had already represented Switzerland at six major international tournaments prior to this season, scored a massive goal with five minutes remaining in the game to complete a third period rally and lift the Lions to level terms in the final playoff series. The visitors had drawn first blood two minutes into the second period via JOEL VERMIN, the Switzerland junior international who finished tied for third on SC Bern with 11 goals during NLA regular season. However, it was Canadian import BLAINE DOWN who reacted first to a lively rebound off the boards behind the net and equalized for SC Zurich seven minutes into the final period … The well-traveled Down, who spent three seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League and also played in Denmark and Italy before signing with the farm club GC Kuesnacht Lions in the summer of 2008, certainly picked a prominent moment to strike for his one and only playoff goal this term; the 29-year-old forward had totaled six goals in 24 games for SC Zurich during the regular season … Making matters worse for SC Bern on the evening, the 2010 Swiss champions lost their two-goal hero from Game One, the highly-experienced and effective J.P. DUMONT, to injury in the defeat, as well; the 34-year-old had averaged one point per game in 31 regular season contests and, more importantly, compiled 14 points (6 go 8 as) in a dozen playoff games but, like SC Bern’s PostFinance Topskorer BYRON RITCHIE, would add no more points in the final series.
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Game Three (Bern) … SC BERN 3 – SC ZURICH 0
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SC Bern center ETIENNE FROIDEVAUX (20), the 23-year-old checker who notched six goals while playing in all 50 National League A regular season games this campaign, struck for a third time in the playoffs halfway through the contest and then set up a second for 21-year-old TRISTAN SCHERWEY nine minutes into the final frame as Finnish trainer ANTTI TORMANEN’s troops regained the advantage in the title series. Aging SC Bern assistant captain IVO RUETHEMANN, the 35-year-old, three-time Olympian who has represented Switzerland at 14 major international tournaments in his long career, added one last goal with but three minutes remaining. At the other end, veteran netminder MARCO BUEHRER blocked all 28 shots faced to frustrate visting SC Zurich … A first and last strike of the playoffs for the youthful Scherwey, who scored a combined five goals in all contests during SC Bern’s 2009/10 championship season but slipped to three goals in all this year … Replacing the injured J.P. Dumont in the SC Bern line-up was fellow Canadian legionnaire JEAN-PIERRE VIGIER (Northern Michigan University), the 35-year-old veteran of 213 National Hockey League games for the Atlanta Thrashers who had been a healthy scratch for the first two games of this NLA playoff final. Vigier’s coach his final season in Atlanta had been none other than the man currently standing behind the bench for SC Zurich, the imported Canadian trainer BOB HARTLEY. Also appearing in the series for the first time was former Phoenix Coyotes defender TRAVIS ROCHE (North Dakota University), the 33-year-old rearguard who had previously played a prominent role for SC Bern during its last title-winning campaign of 2009/10 … The match produced an uglier moment or two when SC Bern defender JOHANN MORANT, who would be suspended a considerable 14 games for his aggressive actions, repeatedly struck SC Zurich center CYRILL BUEHLER in the head and then manhanded a Swiss NLA official.
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Game Four (Zurich) … SC BERN 2 – SC ZURICH 0
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Three minutes after failing on a penalty shot, SC Bern finally broke the scoreless deadlock when Switzerland veteran international IVO RUETHEMANN (32) netted a goal nine minutes into the second period and sent the visitors well on their way. MARCO BUEHRER, the 32-year-old, reliable veteran who has backstopped SC Bern to two National League A titles since arriving from EHC Chur in the summer of 2002, turned aside all 25 shots and shutout SC Zurich for a second consecutive contest. Sparkplug SC Bern captain MARTIN PLEUSS, the 35-year-old, highly-experienced center who has also represented Switzerland at 14 major international tournaments and assisted on Ruethemann’s opening tally, tacked on an empty net goal in the final minute as the visitors stormed to a commanding 3-1 lead in the NLA final playoff series … SC Zurich defenseman PATRICK GEERING, the 22-year-old who played exactly one game for Switzerland at the 2010 IIHF World Championships, was unlucky to hit the crossbar with seven minutes to go in the opening period … ZSC Lions goaltender LUKAS FLUEELER, who put on a fine display at the Hallenstadion despite the defeat, halted SC Bern’s PostFinance Topskorer BYRON RITCHIE on the penalty shot six minutes into the second period … Veteran Switzerland international center THOMAS ZIELGER, the 33-year-old who skated nine seasons for SC Bern after returning from North America during the 2001/02 campaign, was scratched from the SC Zurich line-up by trainer BOB HARTLEY and would remain so for the rest of the series; Ziegler appeared in five National Hockey League games for the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2000/01 campaign but bolted the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League after skating in just three games to start the next season.
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Game Five (Bern) … SC ZURICH 2 – SC BERN 1
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Highly-experienced, three-time Switzerland Olympic defenseman and club captain MATHIAS SEGER (15) scored a life-saving goal ten minutes into the overtime session as SC Zurich avoided elimination in dramatic fashion at the “unique cauldron” that is the PostFinance Arena. Relatively-untested ZSC Lions goaltender LUKAS FLUEELER was the real star of the show who made it all possible by saving 33 shots from an SC Bern squad determined to end the series immediately. With their backs up against the proverbial wall, the visitors had broken through first after 37-year-old dinosaur DOMENIC PITTIS, the former 2nd round pick of the Pittsburgh Penquins at the 1993 National Hockey League Draft who later managed 86 NHL games in ten years of North American professional hockey, converted a pass from Switzerland Olympic center ANDRES AMBUEHL almost halfway through the contest but SC Bern, who outshot SC Zurich by a 17-9 margin over the first two periods, equalized four minutes later with a goal from checker ETIENNE FROIDEVAUX, his second of this final playoff series … Having skated in 94 games (3 go 18 as) while representing Switzerland at 15 major international tournaments since 1998 heading into this season, the SC Zurich skipper Seger is the most-experienced international player on either side of this final playoff series … Sitting out for a second consecutive contest was suspended SC Bern defenseman JOHANN MORANT, the 26-year-old who appeared twice for France at the Division I (old B Pool) of the IIHF World Junior Championships previously in 2005 and 2006 but plays in the National League A with a Swiss passport and, thus, does not count against the strict quota on foreigners … SC Bern defenseman JOEL KWIATKOWSKI, who logged 282 NHL games for five clubs in ten years of North American professional hockey, was a healthy scratch for the second time in three games; the 35-year-old who represented Canada at the 2009 IIHF World Championships originally signed with SC Bern in the summer of 2010 after two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League with Russian clubs Severstal Cherepovets and SKA St. Petersburg, respectively.
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Game Six (Zurich) … SC ZURICH 6 – SC BERN 3
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With the opportunity to tie the series at hand, SC Zurich unleash a Schuetzefest and score six goals, the exact same number Canadian trainer BOB HARTLEY’s charges had totaled against SC Bern’s veteran goaltender MARCO BUEHRER (39) through the first five games of the playoff final, on home ice at the Hallenstadion. After a scoreless first period, the ZSC Lions opened up a 3-0 lead on goals by Switzerland Olympic forwards THIBAUT MONNET (7) and ANDRES AMBUEHL, as well as influential club captain MATHIAS SEGER, all in a 10-minute span midway through the second. Two Blitztore from Canadian-born Switzerland international RYAN GARDNER, the 34-year-old veteran who once played three seasons of junior with London and North Bay in the Ontario Hockey League, brought SC Bern back quickly but eternal 37-year-old National Hockey League veteran DOMENIC PITTIS, enabled by Ambuehl and Monnet, struck on the power play for SC Zurich with only a minute left in the second session … SC Bern captain MARTIN PLUESS, who previously spent four seasons in the Swedish elite league with HC Vastra Frolunda Gothenburg before returning home in 2008 and has also registered 25 goals in 88 games at major international tournaments for Switzerland in his career entering this season, responded with a power play goal and pulled the visitors to within one just two minutes into the final period. But 27-year-old Switzerland international winger PATRICK BAERTSCHI, the one-time Pittsburgh Penquins’ 7th round draft pick who spent three seasons with SC Bern before joining the ZSC Lions in the summer of 2010, aborted any comeback by scoring a big goal against his old club and just four minutes later. SC Zurich’s PostFinance Topskorer JEFF TAMBELLINI (Michigan Univ), the former 1st round pick of the Los Angeles Kings at the 2003 NHL Draft who skated in six playoff games for the Vancouver Canucks during their run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, sealed the deal by finding the empty net about a minute to go … The late goal and an assist on Ambuehl’s strike earlier in the contest amounted to the first two points of the final playoff series for the Canadian legionnaire Tambellini, the 28-year-old left wing who led the ZSC Lions with both 23 goals and 45 points during the “Qualifikation” campaign … SC Zurich defenseman STEVE MCCARTHY, the former 1st round pick of the Chicago Black Hawks at the 1999 NHL Draft who was brought in to bolster the blueline a quarter of the way through the season by ZSC Lions trainer BOB HARTLEY, sent some kind of message by blasting a puck off the post only 50 seconds into the contest … Baertschi’s goal chased veteran SC Bern goaltender MARCO BUEHRER, who traveled with the Swiss national team to seven major international tournaments from 2001 thru 2006 but only appeared in six matches collectively, to the bench six minutes into the deciding period.
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Game Seven (Bern) … SC ZURICH 2 – SC BERN 1
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A sensational goal with exactly 2.5 seconds left in the third period not only powered resilient SC Zurich to victory in the seventh and final game of the National League A final playoff series, the score also completed a spectacular comeback which saw the ZSC Lions fight back after initially falling behind admirable SC Bern three games to one. Despite being outshot by an 8-5 margin, SC Zurich managed to take the lead on the road at the PostFinance Arena in the very last minute of the opening period with a goal by MARK BASTL, the 31-year-old Swiss veteran who once played three seasons of college hockey in the United States for Findlay University in Ohio. SC Bern retaliated, however, only two minutes into the following frame when SC Bern veteran Switzerland international IVO RUETHEMANN scored his third goal of the series … The home side went on to outshoot their guests by the lopsided 16-3 margin in the second period but the ZSC Lions persevered with trainer BOB HARTLEY’s conservative tactics and profited from solid goaltending by 23-year-old LUKAS FLUEELER. SC Bern would come to regret not having capitalized on so many opportunities as SC Zurich came out of its shell to generate ten shots on goal in the final period and ultimately scored to win when imported Canadian defenseman STEVE MCCARTHY, the 31-year-old veteran of 302 National Hockey League games initially signed to a three-week contract with no guarantees by the ZSC Lions last October, picked up a loose puck in the slot between the faceoff circles … McCarthy’s Meistertreffer (championship goal) was not only the first of this 2011/12 playoff campaign for the one-time first round NHL Draft pick, the tally was also the very first goal that the 12-year professional had ever scored in the postseason in any league … Filling in for injured Canadian import BLAINE DOWN and making his first appearance of the final playoff series for SC Zurich was Slovakia international winger JURAJ KOLNIK, the 31-year-old veteran of 250 NHL games who topped HC Servette Geneva in scoring two consecutive years after leaving the Florida Panthers at the end of the 2006/07 season; a two-time performer at the annual IIHF World Championships, Kolnik had reached the National League A final playoff series with HC Servette Geneva in 2010 only to lose the title to SC Bern.
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Triumphant SC Zurich captain MATHIAS SEGER (15), who scored just two goals in 14 postseason contests but saved them both for the final playoff series against vanquished SC Bern, lifts the National League A title trophy high at the conclusion of the heart-stopping Game Seven contested at the sold-out PostFinance Arena in Bern, Switzerland.

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First-Time Swiss Charm Equals Hat Trick For Bob Hartley


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Perhaps it was the experience gathered while guiding the National Hockey League’s Coloardo Avalance to the coveted Stanley Cup title a little over a decade earlier. But SC ZUERICH losing its first seven Swiss National League A contests at home to start this 2011/12 season never did get imported trainer BOB HARTLEY down. Neither did finishing an unimpressive seventh in the regular season standings nor even even falling behind to SC Bern 3-1 in the best-of-seven playoff final.

A decisive Game Seven to be played on the road at the imposing PostFinance Arena in Bern? No problem. Apparently, in retrospect, nothing would be allowed to rattle the unflappable Hartley and prevent the 51-year-old Canadian from adding a third championship title to an already-distinguished coaching resume.

Hartley had been out of hockey since being released by the Atlanta Thrashers shortly into the 2007/08 NHL campaign and had been employed as an analyst for French-Canadian television channel Reseau des Sports when the call came in from Switzerland last spring. SC Zuerich had recently let go of Swedish trainer BENGT-AKE GUSTAFSSON, the former NHL center for the Wasington Capitals who had steered Tre Kronor to the Olympic gold medal in 2006, after only just one term. A seventh place finish in the regular season coupled with a first round exit from the playoffs was not acceptable so far as ZSC Lions management was concerned.

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A touch of class from the ‘rookie’ Canadian trainer in Switzerland, then, as the long-serving Finnish netminder ARI SULANDER skates out to replace SC Zuerich starting goaltender LUKAS FLUEELER (30) in the very last minute of Game Six at the Hallenstadion during the dramatic National League A final playoff series. It had been, of course, the 43-year-old veteran who backstopped the ZSC Lions to three national titles (in 2000, 2001 and 2008) previously. Although named the Best Goaltender at the 1998 IIHF World Championships hosted by Switzerland, Sulander will be, perhaps, best remembered for his work when Finland defeated Wayne Gretzky and Canada in the Bronze Medal Match at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan.
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Hartley, who claimed his first professional championship piloting the Hershey Bears to the 1998 American Hockey League’s Calder Cup title, had two players follow him across the Atlantic Ocean to sign with SC Zuerich last summer. Swizerland national team veteran defenseman SEVERIN BLINDENBACHER was returning home after a season skating in the AHL for the Texas Stars. JEFF TAMBELLINI, the one-time Los Angeles Kings’ first round pick from the University of Michigan, had just departed the 2011 Stanley Cup runners-up Vancouver Canucks.

As has been hallmark of his teams throughout his career, Hartley installed a conservative, defense-first system upon arriving at SC Zuerich. But not every move made by the native of Hawkesbury, Ontario, worked out exactly as planned. The attempt to recycle 39-year-old Swedish veteran MICHAEL NYLANDER, who notched a career-high 83 points for the New York Rangers during the 2006/07 NHL campaign, was abandoned just before Christmas after the two-time Olympian was injured following 15 National League A appearances (5 go, 5 as) for ZSC.

Hartley did, however, do very well with the signing of veteran NHL defenseman STEVE MCCARTHY to a try-out contract this past October. The defense corps had been surrendering too many goals and the team were struggling to win even a single game at home, so the first-year SC Zuerich trainer turned to the former 1st round NHL Draft pick whom he had coached previously during his time in Atlanta. And McCarthy, for his part, more than certainly rewarded that faith at the end of the day.

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SC Bern’s imported Canadian center BYRON RITCHIE, the 35-year-old veteran who contested 342 NHL games for the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks before originally signing in Switzerland with HC Servette Geneva in the summer of 2008, jostles with SC Zuerich defenseman STEVE MCCARTHY (3), who twice earned bronze medals representing Canada at the annual IIHF World Junior Championships.

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McCarthy’s Moment In Die Schweiz


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Joined in the crease by all five SC BERN skaters on the ice, former New York Rangers farmhand ANDRES AMBUEHL (44) of SC ZUERICH eyes the puck in the net behind veteran Switzerland international goaltender MARCO BUEHRER (39) as the match referee at the side of the net observes the action intently. It is the decisive GAME SEVEN of the NATIONAL LEAGUE A PLAYOFF FINAL series featuring visiting SC Zuerich and host SC Bern, then. The two sides are deadlocked at one goal apiece and there are exactly 2.5 seconds to play in the third period at the sold-out PostFinance Arena …
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Black-sweatered SC BERN, the second-most successful Swiss ice hockey club since the National League A was first formed in the winter of 1937/38 having won a dozen domestic championships, had stormed to a commanding 3-1 lead after the first four contests in the best of seven series with SC ZUERICH. What’s more, the hosts would outshoot their guests by the margin of 28-18 in the dramatic Game Seven showdown on home ice. But all of that amounted to nothing now as the referee acknowledged the puck in the back of the net with 17,131 mostly-disappointed spectators also looking on at the ice rink with the world-renowned standing-room-only section.
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SC Zuerich journeyman rearguard STEVE MCCARTHY (3), the first round draft pick (# 23 overall) of the Chicago Black Hawks at the 1999 National Hockey League Draft, had never been much of a goal-scorer over the course of his dozen campaigns in the ranks of professional hockey on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, the 31-year-old native of Trail, British Columbia has totaled just 30 goals while skating in a little over 500 regular season contests for clubs in the NHL, American Hockey League, Kontinental Hockey League (Russia), Finland in addition to Switzerland. Nevertheless, McCarthy could not have picked a better moment to score his first-ever ever playoff goal in any country while sensationally catapulting SC Zuerich to the 2012 national championship all with one dramatic shot.
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After sufficently impressing following an official three-day tryout period, defenseman STEVE MCCARTHY (3) was only formally signed by Swiss club SC Zuerich this past October after a quarter of the National League A season had already been played. Even then, the veteran of 302 National Hockey League games was only offered a three-week contract with absolutely no guarantees from SC Zuerich’s imported Canadian trainer BOB HARTLEY, the former Stanley Cup champion coach of the Colorado Avalanche who had also had McCarthy on his bench a few years earlier while with the Atlanta Thrashers. Having made ten appearances for the ZSC Lions and significantly helped to shore up a defense that had been leaking goals for a team that had lost its first six matches at home previously, McCarthy was soon tendered another contract by the Swiss club thru the end of the 2011/12 campaign.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see appreciate the brilliance of that decision by SC Zuerich.

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