By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com
The Swiss will be led by Reto Berra and Leonardo Genoni. 34-year-old veteran Berra played the U18 in 2005, his first of many tournaments over the next 15 years, notably the 2014 Olympics. He was also on both silver-medal teams at the World Championships (2013, 2018), and this will be his 8th World Championship.
Genoni led Zug to the Swiss championship a few weeks ago. He also was a teammate of Berra at the 2005 U18 as well as at the 2018 Worlds. He will be appearing in his 7th World Championship. The third goalie is Melvin Nyffeler, a 27-year-old who is making his debut at the senior level for the Swiss.
The 35-year-old Raphael Diaz will be back for his 8th World Championship. He captained the last three tournaments, as well as the 2018 Olympic team. Alongside him will be a nice blend of youth and veteran talent. At the top end will be four players from the 2018 silver-medal team, notably Michael Fora, Lukas Frick, Mirco Muller, and Ramon Untersander. Romain Loeffel is playing in his fourth WM since 2015.
Relative newcomers include Janis Moser, who at 20 is the youngest player on the team, as well as 21-year-old Tobias Greisser. Jonas Siegenthaler, who played three U18s and three U20s, is making his debut at the senior level. Santeri Alatalo is the year’s feel-good story. The 31-year-old has played for Zug for years but is only now representing his adopted country at an IIHF event for the first time after gaining Swiss citizenship.
Andres Ambuhl joins record-setting company this year as he dresses for his 16th World Championship. He ties countryman Mathias Seger for the most top-level World Championship tournaments of all time, and at 37 he still has a bit of time to improve on that. He has also played in four Olympics, won silver at the 2013 Worlds, and captained the 2016 team.
Joining him will be three of the best young players in the NHL, starting with New Jersey’s Nico Hischier. Drafted 1st overall by the Devils in 2017, he became one of the youngest captains in NHL history when he was given the “C” this past February at age 22.
Also accepting an invitation is Philipp Kurashev from the Chicago Blackhawks. The 21-year-old started the season in Lugano before joining the Hawks and making his NHL debut in January. And the third NHLer who has developed by leaps and bounds in San Jose is Timo Meier. The 24-year-old has been one of the Sharks’ top forwards the last few years for both his scoring and two-way play.
Three late bloomers who have become top members of the Swiss national team later in their careers are Tristan Scherwey, Joel Vermin, and Samuel Walser, and other veteran include Sven Andrighetto and Gregory Hofmann, who scored two goals for Zug a couple of weeks ago to secure the team’s first league championship in 23 years.
Dario Simion will be making his senior debut after a successful junior career in which he made two U18 appearances and three more at the World Juniors. Alessio Bertaggia, 27, and Killian Mottet, 30, will also be making their belated debuts. Enzo Corvi, who finished fourth in scoring this past season in Switzerland, just behind Andrighetto, will also be in the lineup.
The 45-year-old Patrick Fischer is now in his fifth consecutive World Championship. He was also behind the bench for the 2018 Olympics and took the team to the gold medal game of the 2018 Worlds. He is the first Swiss coach in more than a quarter century and has taken the team to the quarter-finals in three of the previous four years.
This is a formidable Swiss lineup. Take them lightly at your own risk. Given the level of commitment from the team’s best players, this is a group that would be disappointed if it didn’t at least qualify for the playoff round. After that, who knows, but a podium finish would not be out of the question or too much to expect.