We continue with our season preview of the 12 National League teams…
ZSC Lions – The nr. 1 favourite… it’s as simple as that!
Last season, at some point, it seemed like everything went south… the Lions had an impressive potential but Hans Wallson’s system of play – nice to watch but inefficient – was not producing the desired results. Te team in fact, darn struggled even just to make the playoffs irrespective of the change of coach during the Christmas break.
Hans Kossmann, however, precisely during the Christmas break started a painstaking work. He restored the players self-confidence and let them freely express their talent. It’s been a continued growth that led finally to a well deserved title! We mean, he brought the Lions up there to the top. Where they belong. Where they want to stay!
It’s very complicated to win back to back the National League two consecutive times. Bern did it back in 2016 and 2017. Previously though, the last team capable of this “feat” was Zürich back in 2000 and 2001.
However, the ZSC Lions have no options. They must turn every stone and even more to win again! The team has all it takes to go all the way, after all. And in fact, on paper, Zürich have arguably the best roster of the National League. In other words, they’re the number one favourite! Then again, the beauty of sport is that two and two do not always equal four… Without forgetting that it’s very difficult to win. But it’s even harder win again!
Our RS final position prediction: 1st – 3rd
The ZSC Lions have quality and talent coming out of their ears. On paper, the Reigning Champions are second to no one, it’s as simple as that. Moreover, wherever possible, the club has been able to reinforce the roster last summer! We mean, the Lions can become a real steamroller in the upcoming Regular Season.
The winning mindset
Hans Kossmann has achieved two very important targets in Zürich. First of all, he gifted the club with the title. Second instead, perhaps even more important, he rebuilt a winning mindset. The Lions were always nice to watch but their nice hockey hasn’t lead to titles in recent years. Under Kossmann instead, they became once again more hungry. Much more determined. Even merciless we dare to say. Just like the winners are.
The offensive players
Zürich’s offensive players were already top notch last season. Simon Bodenmann, Roman Cervenka and Dennis Hollenstein’s arrivals strengthen the team even more in this regard! In fact, the offensive players at Serge Aubin’s disposal can scare the opponents already before the first puck drop while they’re just warming up. If the players can find the right chemistry, an abacus will be required at the Hallenstadion…
It’s difficult to find weaknesses for Bern… we list a couple of them but they’re mostly “unknown” rather than real weaknesses.
This is the first season for Serge Aubin as a coach in Switzerland. In the last two years he coached the Wien Capitals while previously he was firstly assistant and then head coach of the Hamburg Freezers. The ZSC Lions trust him… as demonstrated by the fact that he’s been hired and announced already last season. Is he gonna be the right man in the right place? Time will tell. One thing is sure: it’s not gonna be easy. Currently, and until mid-October, with all due respect, the ZSC Lions coach remains a question mark.
Fans find it incomprehensible… but it happens that players feel gratified after winning a title. It’s something probably subconsciuos that goes through the players head. These are not only empty words and history teaches us this. The ZSC Lions were “on fire” for a month and a half during last playoffs… will they be able to have that feeling again right from the start? Probably yes. But it’s not self-evident.
Mathias Seger retired and it’s difficult to digest for ice hockey lovers. Mike Künzle, Mattias Sjögren, Ronalds Kenins, Linden Vey, Lauri Korpikoski, Inti Pestoni and Pius Suter instead, they didn’t retire but left the club. Many players…
Arrivals instead, are less. Only four players joined the team. But guys… what players! We’re talking about Roman Cervenka, arguably one of the best import players of the league. Maxim Noreau, one of the most skilled offensive defenseman of the league. Denis Hollenstein, one of the best Swiss forwards around. And finally, Simon Bodenmann, who’s coming off his best season of the career in terms of points scored.
THE KEY PLAYER
We could name so many players… we picked on the one that, at some point, seemed like he wanted to put his career to an end. Kevin Klein. He changed mind and extended his contract for a season. The club, and the fans, are grateful. It took him a while last season to really have an impact… in fact, Klein needed some time to adapt to Swiss hockey. As the season went by, however, he turned into an impressive player. Quality, quantity, determination and leadership. A step-up kind of guy!
THE POTENTIAL SURPRISE
Marco Miranda has made his National League debut last year during the Regular Season. He impressed immediately with the ease he adapted to the top tier of Swiss ice hockey after his path with Dübendorf, ZSC Lions and GCK Lions. The 20 years old forward is very determined and very skilled. He can have an important role in the team this year.
Oftentimes, the early stages of the season are crucial. In fact, the team has the chance to gain self-confidence. And as we all know, self-confidence is a factor that can make the difference. Even more so in such a tight league like the National League.
Zürich’s first game of the season is scheduled for September 21 at the Hallenstadion. The opponents? SC Bern… namely, fireworks are expected! After that, Aubin’s troops will travel to Rapperswil to visit the newly-promoted side.
Then, the Lions will host Langnau, will travel to Genève and Zug, will host Ambrì-Piotta and will have again two consecutive away games against Fribourg Gottéron and Davos.
Since we are talking about the Swiss Champions, every comment is unnecesasary. Therefore, the only thing left to say is…
Good luck, ZSC Lions!