HC AMBRÌ-PIOTTA – Analysis of the 2018-19 season
Do you remember how many times Ambrì-Piotta lost tight games last season even though the performances were decent? Well, at first glance, if we go back to September 21st, 2018, at the seasonal debut, it looked like the same situation was about to repeat iself also this year. Ambrì-Piotta hosted Zug and suffered a 1-2 defeat. After the game we wrote…
“Both teams would have deserved at least a point. In the end, however, Zug prevailed.”
And instead, that was only the first step of a great season. A season during which Ambrì-Piotta made a huge step forward compared to the previous one. And a season during which oftentimes tight defeats turned into tight wins. That’s a huge difference.
We mean, the Biancoblù already started to reap the rewards of the great work started on the eve of the 2017-18 season. Paolo Duca and Luca Cereda – and whoever is working with them – have done wonders and the club deserves some big round of applause too.
What about the players then? They’ve been commendable. We’re pretty sure that they don’t want to hear the word “work” in the next few weeks… Luca Cereda has been repeating to death that word throughout the whole season, after all. But then again, hard work is the only reasonable course for this club that is improving a lot in every way.
The 2018-19 season was excellent, a memorable season during which there was also the icing on the cake represented by the playoffs played head-on and that ended with everybody, but everybody, who gave everything.
Also the fans. Who came back to support the team like in the good old days and ofetntimes were the sixth man on the ice. That extra man that pushes you to go beyond your limits… that extra man that, after a while, can say again to his great love that yes, we’re family again!
THE REGULAR SEASON
Ambrì-Piotta spent almost the whole season above the line… that’s not something that happens every year. If we exclude a short negative period of time back in autumn – when Ambrì-Piotta lost 5 games narrow – the team was very consistent. It’s true that the Leventinesi never won more than 4 consecutive games… but it’s also true that, and this is even more important, they never lost more than 2 consecutive games if we exclude, precisely, that short negative period back in autumn. That short negative period, however, was in our opinion the turning point for Ambrì-Piotta. After that 5 defeats in fact, the Leventinesi had to face Lugano and Bern… and earned two wins! That two wins, in our opinion, made clear that Ambrì-Piotta were going in the right direction. The 5th final place then it was only the logical consequence.
EHC Biel-Bienne – HC Ambrì-Piotta 4-1
Bienne won 4-1 on overall the quarterfinal series… put it like that, it looks like it was a walk in the park for the Seeländers. And instead it wasn’t. The numbers don’t tell the whole story… they don’t tell that – apart from game-1 – Ambrì-Piotta played well and turned out to be a tough nut to crack for Bienne. Overall, the elimination makes sense… the Seeländers proved stronger, more experienced and more able to make the difference at the key moments of the games. Luca Cereda’s guys, however, can go on holiday with their heads held high!
Let’s see few things that in our opinion worked well and few things that didn’t work at all.
The system of play
Ambrì-Piotta’s system of play can put the opponents into trouble all the times when it’s followed to the letter. Intensity, grit, determination, speed… the Leventinesi have been a tough nut to crack throughout the whole season. Also during negative days or periods, Ambrì-Piotta always had their system of play to hang on to… this is always a great confidence booster.
If we exclude some period at about mid-season, Ambrì-Piotta had an excellent power-play. Most of the times the Biancoblù were able to enter the offensive zone easily and, even when the puck was not moving around smoothly, they often found the way to put the puck in the net.
It’s safe to say that the players never, but never, gave up. They always kept their feet on the ground after victories and always bounced back after defeats and/or negative performances. From the outside, the impression was that the players formed a tight-knit group and this is the base for success.
Luca Cereda and Paolo Duca… but also the board and whoever is working behind the scenes. Ambrì-Piotta are a great family again! The fans understood that, they responded by following the team in great numbers and always supported the team. The whole club deserves a big round of applause.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Ambrì-Piotta’s playoffs came to an end after 5 games even though probably they would have deserved to play one extra home game. The truth is, however, that the Leventinesi won only one game out of four… they weren’t able to make that “little something extra” to defeat at least one more time Bienne.
Faceoffs are potentially a pivotal play in ice hockey especially at the key moments of the games. And the truth is that Ambrì-Piotta’s faceoffs efficiency was not good enough (48.8%). Among the players who took faceoofs regularly, only Jiri Novotny was effective. This is something that can improve in view of next season.
Lack of winning runs
Previously we praised Ambrì-Piotta and their consistency. However, just like it’s fair to stress that Ambrì-Piotta never lost many games narrow, it’s also fair to say that they never really had a long wininng run. In fact, they never won more than 4 consecutive games this season.
Ambrì-Piotta proved during playoffs that can increase their level of physical play. Our impression, however, is that way too often during the season the opponents were better in this regard… let’s face it, discipline is a great thing and must be praised. At times though, it helps when you can count on some (fair!) agitator who can change the momentum of the games by provoking the opponents and playing physical.
THE 3 STARS OF THE SEASON
Dominik Kubalik is actually among the three stars of the whole league… Let’s face it, we’ve been lucky to have him around for almost two seasons. He’s a player who has above average skills and together with Dominic Zwerger and Marco Müller he formed one of the most dangerous, effective and entertaining offensive lines of the league. Whenever he leaves Ambrì, we’ll miss him dearly.
Jiri Novotny arrived in Ambrì almost by accident following Bryan Lerg’s injury. Maybe many of you were wondering what this experienced guy could give to Ambrì-Piotta… well, we understood that soon enough. He’s been among the most effective defensive offensemen of the league when it came to give team stability. He’s been a perfect example of professionalism… and he entertained everybody with the “geyser dance”! The latter bonded even more the fans with the players.
Benjamin Conz’s performances were good most of the time and also during playoffs he turned out to be a reliable goalie. In fact, starting from last season’s playouts final played against Kloten, Benjamin has been very consistent. Moreover, the rotation with Daniele Manzato did him good.
Not many of you knew Fabio Hofer before he had arrived… and let’s face it, it wasn’t easy for him to move from the EBEL to the NLA. It took him some time to adapt to the new reality but then it became clear why Ambrì-Piotta wanted him! He brings in a lot of energy and commitment. And let us not forget that he tallied even many points. He’ll be even better next season!
THE SPECIAL MENTION
Luca Cereda (Coach)
Work, work, work, work… as he says, there are not magic recipes. Ironically, we dare say that the players don’t want to hear the word “work” for a long while 🙂 Yet, all kidding aside, Luca Cereda – together with his staff – did an impressive job. He almost always did the right thing, he made the team play well and made the players react after the defeats. What a great coach!
THE SEASON IN NUMBERS – THE STATS
GOALS FOR & GOALS AGAINST
Overall, Ambrì-Piotta scored a bit less than conceded. Mostly, however, it’s interesting to have a look at the charts of the goals for and against development over-the-arc of the 60 minutes. Both during the Regular Season and Post Season, Ambrì-Piotta conceded a lot of goals during the last 10 minutes of play. That’s because in our opinion Luca Cereda’s system of play is effective but also tiring… we don’t think it’s an accident that the Leventinesi conceded a lot of goals during the final stages. Probably it happened because of tiredness.
SHOTS & SHOTS AGAINST
Ambrì-Piotta shot slightly more than their opponents. Also in this case, however, we have a confirmation of what we’ve just said. That is, that the system of play is tiring as the games go on… also in these charts in fact, we can see that the Leventinesi have to face more shots as the games go on. Apart from the playoffs, when however, Ambrì-Piotta were mostly behind on the score at the second break and were forced to push forward.
SCORING & SAVING PERCENTAGE
Ambrì-Piotta’s scoring percentage was excellent during the Regular Season and this is a symptom of self-confidence. The scoring percentage then decereased during the playoffs when they had to face Jonas Hiller. Saving percentage instead, was excellent during the Regular Season and very excellent during the Post Season.
POWER-PLAY & PENALTY-KILLING
The Leventinesi were fantastic during power-play situation as we had already the chance to write in detail earlier. During playoffs then, they were almost perfect during the few power-play opportunities. Finally, Ambrì-Piotta were even more than decent penalty killers.
Ambrì-Piotta’s puck possession during the Regular Season was slightly below 50.0%. It means that the Leventinesi, also statistically speaking, have neven been really outplayed by their opponents and this is positive.
It was a very good season which ended with the first playoffs since 5 years. The performances were good most of the time and the opponents respect Ambrì-Piotta again in every way.
The fans fell in love with this team that never left the ice without having given it all.
This season’s biggest success, however, in our opinion is the confirmation that the path taken two seasons ago is the right one. Not always Ambrì-Piotta will make the playoffs… not always there will be satisfactions… but provided that the Leventinesi keep it up, they can improve furthermore.
Now the difficult part starts though. Ambrì-Piotta have all it takes to battle regularly to make the playoffs but it will not be self-evident to always do. Therefore, it’s important to leave the team in peace and quite, actually to support it, during negative periods. This year – during the rare negative moments – the fans showed their support and in the future it should be the same.
In this regard, next season will be a real litmus test for Ambrì-Piotta. The Leventinesi will take part in four competitions… we mean, there will be new challenges and tiredness will be something to deal with.
What else can we say for now? Enjoy your deserved holidays, HC Ambrì-Piotta! We’re pretty sure that the fans can’t wait for summer to be over…