POSTFINANCE TOPSKORERS face off as HC Fribourg-Gotteron forward SIMON GAMACHE (left), the 30-year-old Quebec native who skated in 48 National Hockey League contests for the Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs in his career, and SC Bern pivot BYRON RITCHIE, the 34-year-old from British Columbia who participated in 342 NHL games for the Carolina Hurricane, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, wait for the National League A linesman to drop the puck during a match earlier this 2011/12 season at the Patinoire Saint-Leonard rink in Fribourg, Switzerland.
It is not very hard at all for any Swiss ice hockey spectator, be it at the rink in person or at home watching on television, to simply identify the leading point-getter — easily recognizable by the yellow helmet adorned with red flames as well as the distinct, number-less sweater — for any given National League A team in any given match at any given time over the course of a long season.
Ever since the start of the 2002/03 campaign, the POSTFINANCE TOPSKORER jersey is worn by the current scoring leading for each team at every match in the Swiss top flight. Indeed, this same unique policy, which is found nowhere else in Europe, is also applicable in the National League B, as well. The regular season scoring champion for each club then earns the right to wear the Topskorer sweater throughout the entire playoff schedule.
The sponsor of the program is the financial services company PostFinance, the fifth-largest retail financial institution in Switzerland. For every point any given player wearing the PostFinance Topskorer shirt registers, PostFinance donates 200 Swiss francs to the applicable NLA team (or 100 Swiss francs to an NLB outfit) with the stipulation that the money must be used specifically applied the respective clubs’ youth programs.
PostFinance, originally founded in 1906 and not an actual bank but rather a component of the national mail carrier SWISS POST, also makes a matching contribution to the Schweizerischer Eishockeyverband (SEHV – Swiss Ice Hockey Association) for the development of the national team’s youth programs.
Switzerland senior national team winger and 2012 National League A PostFinance Topskorer DAMIEN BRUNNER of EV Zug, the first homegrown ice hockey player in 30 years to win the scoring title in the domestic top flight, beats HC Lugano netminder BENJAMIN CONZ (91), the number one goaltender for Switzerland at both the 2010 and 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships, during a shootout this past October at the Bossard Arena in Zug.
60 pts – 2011/12 … Damien BRUNNER (Switz), EV Zug
53 pts – 2010/11 … Glen METROPOLIT (Can), EV Zug
65 pts – 2009/10 … Randy ROBITAILLE (Can), HC Lugano
72 pts – 2008/09 … Juraj KOLNIK (Svk), HC Servette Geneva
72 pts – 2007/08 … Erik WESTRUM (USA), HC Ambri-Piotta
66 pts – 2006/07 … Simon GAMACHE (Can), SC Bern
66 pts – 2005/06 … Glen METROPOLIT (Can), HC Lugano
67 pts – 2004/05 … Randy ROBITAILLE (Can), SC Zuerich
72 pts – 2003/04 … Ville PELTONEN (Fin), HC Lugano
72 pts – 2002/03 … Petteri NUMMELIN (Fin), HC Lugano
Canadian import RANDY ROBITAILLE of HC Lugano (above) was the first player ever to repeat as the end-of-the-year PostFinance Topskorer award for the National League A in Switzerland; the 36-year-old product of Miami (Ohio) University who took part in 531 National Hockey League games for no fewer than nine different NHL teams recently completed his 15th professional season playing in the Kontinental Hockey League for modest Russian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk