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Ice hockey is almost back… The 2018-19 National League season will start on September 21 to rule our life again and to gift us with many emotions.

Right, emotions… and to say, it’s gonna be very exciting!

In the coming days we’ll publish the 12 teams season preview. Today instead, we want to write a brief introduction for this season that is expected to be thrilling like never before!

Let’s make a virtual “Tour de Suisse”. We start from west and then we move east… then north, south and so on… we will see that every team has at least a reason to dream of something good!

NATIONAL LEAGUE TOUR DE SUISSE

Chris McSorely is back in charge in Genève… love him or hate him, he’s made our ice hockey recent history. After a year spent relatively far from the ice, here he is again on that bench that had been “his bench” since immemorial time before last season. Will he be able to make Genève Servette that “hated” and “hard to beat” team again? Well, why not…

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We remain in the French part of Switzerland and we move some km east… in Lausanne. The board has made every effort to strengthen the team. The Lions Vaudois were expected to be a sensation last season. Yet, for a multitude of reasons they missed the playoffs. They’re waiting for the new arena… but we’re ready to bet that they want to do very well this season already. They have all it takes to be a sensation, after all.

Heading up north, there is another team that last season has made plenty of progresses and wants to improve even more. We’re talking about Fribourg Gottéron. Mark French revolutionized the team’s attitude and the Dragons ended last season at the quarterfinal stage when they were defeated by the future finalist Lugano. But the mentality changed on the shores of the Sarine… therefore, we expect Gottéron to play a big role this season.

Let’s continue further north… and we find the 2017-18 season real sensation. EHC Biel-Bienne! The club has been working very well since years and started to reap the rewards of the hard work off the ice (club organization and new ice rink) and on the ice (reinforcing the team every year). The Seeländers just can’t wait for the season to start… and we can’t wait to see them.

If we move a little south east then, there is SC Bern. The Mutzen are always among the title contenders and this season is no exception. Jalonen’s troops are stronger than last year and can count on something that could boost their desire to win… that is, to win back the title! Fireworks are to be expected at the PostFinance Arena.

A short distance away then, there are the Mutzen’s cousing. Namely, the Tigers. Langnau are more solid since Heinz Ehlers joined the club and, regardless of the results, they’re always a tough nut to crack. Especially when they play in front of their loyal fans at the Ilfishalle. Will they qualify for the playoffs? Maybe yes. Maybe not. One thing is sure though, they will fight for this target until the end of the Regular Season.

Who instead, should qualify for the playoffs easily (also considering last season’s experience…) are the reigning champions. The ZSC Lions. They were already a great team. They became even stronger after a couple of top class players have joined the club. Hans Kossmann is no longer the coach and he’s been replaced by Serge Aubin. The latter, has a great team at his disposal. Will the Lions, orphans of their cousins Kloten, win back to back the title? In April we’ll have the answer. Surely though, they have all it takes to do it.

Just like, slightly south, another team has all it takes to win. Namely, the “so close and yet so far” EV Zug… The Bulls can dream considering their roster (on paper). Then again, the harsh reality always proved that something was missing to have success. Yet, it would be a mortal sin to underestimate Zug…

Let’s move up north east… in Rapperswil. The Lakers are back where they belong. Namely, to the National League. They’ve been able to kick Kloten out of top tier of Swiss hockey… They won the Swiss League with relative ease… They even won the Swiss Cup last year… We mean, the newly-promoted side does not seem to be Cinderella… In fact, they can become a pleasant surprise.

If we move down south instead, we are in Graubünden. Arno Del Curto’s kingdom. Davos didn’t do very well last season… the Ibexes failed to stop Bienne’s fury in the quarterfinals. However, Davos (almost) never fail two consecutive seasons. Del Curto’s troops are an outsider… But it would be a mortal sin to rule them out.

Finally, let’s go down to Ticino going through the San Bernardino… we arrive in Bellinzona and we continue further south to Lugano where we find last season’s runners up. The Bianconeri coached by Greg Ireland moved their fans to tears only a couple of months ago because of their spirit of self-sacrifice. Last season Lugano were very unlucky with injuries right on the eve of the playoffs. Perhaps, people believe that with Brunner, Chiesa and Bürgler, the team could have brought back the title to Ticino after years of waiting. Is this year gonna be the year? Other teams seem stronger (on paper). But the Bianconeri do not care and want to go all the way. Rightly so.

Going a bit up north instead, we find Ambrì-Piotta. A team that many so-called experts are considering to be, together with Rapperswil, the main contender for bottom of the table position at the end of the season. Is it correct to think like that? Well, the Leventinesi finished the season 11th placed and survived after the playout final won against Kloten. Yet, there were a lot of improvements. Finally there is a very clear philosophy. Furthermore, Luca Cereda can count on a team more in his own image this season. We mean, Ambrì-Piotta can grow even more and can surprise a few!

Well, our Tour de Suisse came to an end. For a thousand of reasons, every team just can’t wait for September 21. Frankly speaking, we can’t wait too!

As previously said, we’ll publish the season preview for every one of the 12 teams in the coming days.

At the end of the season then, someone will celebrate… someone will weep bitter tears… someone will have regrets… one thing is sure though: we’re gonna have fun!

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