SCL TIGERS – Analysis of the 2018-19 season
October: “Langnau? Yeah, yeah, they got off to a good start of the season. Sooner or later, however, they will go down.” November: “Yes, it’s true that Langnau are consistent. But as the season goes on, the team’s real values will come to light and the Tigers will pay the price for that. December: “Ok, Langnau gifted themselves with a nice Christmas to spend in the upper part of the table. With the new year, they will go below the line.” January: “The National League is very balanced and the level is lower than in the past. The “small teams” like Langnau are only taking advantage of that. February: “All right… the Tigers will miss the playoffs at the last gasp.”.
These were more or less some general impressions you could have heard around throughout the season.
So close, and yet so far from the playoffs… how many times, in the recent past, we were all thinking this about Langnau? This season instead, the Tigers have been able to make also the last darn step and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Moreover, wanna know what is the best part? The best part is that Heinz Ehlers’ troops didn’t make it to the playoffs by accident. In fact, it was the consequence of a Regular Season played at the highest level!
And just to say, on the eve of this season, almost everybody thought that Langnau would fight shoulder-to-shoulder with Rapperwil to avoid the bottom of the table position. That was also because, on paper, the roster of the team almost looked weakened compared to the previous season.
Our prediction, it must be said, was little bit more postive. In fact, we had predicted Langnau to finish the Regular Season between the 8th and 10th placed on the table.
Anyway, to sum up, Langnau had their best season of this century. A season made of many joy and only few disappointments… a season made of passion, emotions and even a couple of tears.
But just to summarize, it’s safe to say that Langnau deserve a huge round of applause!
THE REGULAR SEASON
Langnau spent the whole Regular Season above the line! That’s not something that happens very often… Actually several times the Tigers were between the 2nd and 3rd placed on the table. It’s been a fantastic Regular Season for this team that almost everybody thought would fight against relegation with Rapperswil. Heinz Ehlers’ troops have been consistent and the results have been memorable!
Lausanne HC vs SCL Tigers 4-3
Langnau underperformed during game-2 and game-7… and that’s the reason why they didn’t make it to the semi-finals. Overall, however, it’s safe to say that Heinz Ehlers’ troops had some good playoffs! Firstly they went 1-0 ahead… then, when they went 1-3 behind and looked up against the wall, they roared, clawed… they won two games and earned the right to play game-7. During game-7 though, unfortunately, probably the team collapsed mentally and so this fantastic season came to an end.
Let’s see few things that in our opinion worked well and few things that didn’t work at all.
Oftentimes, Langnau’s performances have been excellent. Unfortunately there are still way too many people who consider Heinz Ehlers’ as a pure defensive minded coach… (what would be so wrong with that, anyway?!). The truth is that Langnau were solid in defense but also excellent at counterattacking, resourceful and unpredictable in the offensive zone. We mean, surely Langnau were not purely a defensive minded side. In fact, they played some very entertaining and very well organized hockey.
Langnau had the 3rd best away record of the league. Only Zug and Bern earned more points away from home compared to the Tigers. Always away then, the Tigers had the second best offensive record… only Bienne scored more away goals than Langnau (so much for Langnau being a defensive minded side…). These figures are impressive!
Langnau have been the best penalty killers of the league. It’s as simple as that! When the Tigers were shorthanded it was always so darn difficult for the opponents to create clear scoring opportunities. Things changed – negatively – during playoffs… overall, however, Heinz Ehlers’ troops were rock solid when shorthanded. It was, therefore, also not an accident that Langnau also had the third best overall defensive record of the league behind Bern and Zug.
Langnau lost 4 consecutive games in the latest stages of the Regular Season. If we exclude this negative run, however, the Tigers never lost more than two consecutive games and that’s remarkable. Heinz Ehlers’ troops have been extremely consistent throughout the whole season.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Playoffs – Quarterfinal game-7
Let’s start with the quarterfinal game-7, to talk about things that didn’t work… that’s because, unfortunately, that 8-1 defeat cost the whole season. At the Malley 2.0, either Langnau couldn’t handle the pressure or they just had a bad day just like when they lost 10-3 in Fribourg back in mid-November…
That’s strange. Usually Langnau are able to earn a lot of points at the Ilfishalle. This season instead, the Tigers lost many points at home. Suffice it to say that at the end of the Regular Season they had only the 9th home record of the National League. That’s not good enough. Only Fribourg Gottéron, Rapperswil and Davos earned less points in front of their own fans.
Lack of long winning run
As we said, Langnau have been consistent and, except from those 4 narrow defeats in the latest stages of the Regular Season, they never lost more than 2 consecutive games. On the other hand, however, the Tigers never won more than 4 consecutive games either. In other words, Ehlers’ troops never really had a long winning run that could have generated an even better dynamic in view of the playoffs.
The last part of the season
Langnau lost 6 of their last 8 games of the season. We mean, in other words, they almost missed the playoffs at the last gasp as usual… luckily and deservedly so though, Heinz Ehlers’ guys had earned enough points previously and that was enough to make it to the post season.
THE 3 STARS OF THE SEASON
Many fans were turning their noses at the club when the arrival of Harri Pesonen became official… yet, they all changed mind very fast. Harri Pesonen had a terrific season! He tallied 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists) but most and above all he brought in a lot of energy in the games. Finally, he looked even a charismatic leader on the ice.
Chris DiDomenico’s comeback should have brought two things to Langnau: points and leadership. Well, Chirs brought both! He finished the Regular Season as the Tigers Top Scorer and, moreover, he was that kind of a player that thanks to his hockey sense and his commitment, was an example for all to follow. A crucial player, also during the playoffs.
Damiano Ciaccio turned out to be a very solid goalie. It’s true that the team helped him a lot, but very often Damiano’s performances were fantastic. Especially starting from the moment Ivars Punnenovs got injured and Ciaccio became, in fact, the only reliable goalie at Heinz Ehlers’ disposal. In certain games, he was a real wall in front of the net!
The 27 years old defenseman Anthony Huguenin’ve had the best season of his career. Moreover, he played a crucial role during power-play situations, and he was even among the players who tallied the most power-play points in the league. It’s been a pleasure to see him growing game after game!
THE SPECIAL MENTION
Heinz Ehlers (Coach)
Heinz Ehlers is not playing on the ice… but he’s the architect of this fantastic Langnau that made their fans so proud! As we had already several chances to say in the past, Heinz Ehlers is the most underrated coach in Switzerland in the collective immagination… way too often, he is accused of being purely a defensive minded coach. Yet, whoever has been watching Langnau this season, knows that it’s untrue that Ehlers is purely defensive minded. In fact, he’s a great coach and he deservedly earned the reward of “coach of the year” assigned by other coaches and players.
THE SEASON IN NUMBERS – THE STATS
GOALS FOR & GOALS AGAINST
Langnau scored slightly more than their opponents during the Regular Season and scored less than Lausanne during playoffs. It’s interesting to have a look at the chart of the goals scored development over the arc of the games… Tendentially, Langnau always conceded more goals during the second part of the three periods of play. Was there a problem with the physical condition? Nope, because the Tigers overall scored more goals as the games went on. Probably it was only a matter of lack of focus… just like it happened back in mid-november in Fribourg (10-3 defeat) and during game-7 of the quarterfinal series against Lausanne (8-1 defeat).
SHOTS & SHOTS AGAINST
Overall, Langnau shot more than their opponents… once again, so much for those who keeps thinking that Langnau are a defensive minded side. Moreover, it’s interesting to see that the Tigers shot more than their opponents especially during the second and third periods of play… this fact confirms that the players were in an excellent physical condition.
SCORING & SAVING PERCENTAGE
Langnau had an excellent scoring percentage both during the Regular Season and during the playoffs. The saving percentage instead, was great during the Regular Season but then dropped below the 90.0% during the playoffs because of that 8-1 loss…
POWER-PLAY & PENALTY-KILLING
The Tigers’ power-play wasn’t excellent but only decent. As we had the chance to say already, instead, Langnau have been the best penalty killers of the league… until the end of the Regular Season.
Both during the Regular Season and the playoffs, Langnau had a higher percentage of puck possession compared to their opponents. Once again, so much for whoever continues to say that Heinz Ehlers’ is a purely defensive minded coach!
It’s ok when your season comes to an end at the quarterfinals stage. Frankly speaking, however, Langnau didn’t deserve to conclude their fantastic season with an 8-1 defeat. In fact, it was a severe loss that didn’t reflect what we’ve seen during the whole series against Lausanne.
A series during which, frankly speaking, Langnau were better than Lausanne when it comes to “playoffs mode”.
Anyway, it’s been a terrific season. Heinz Ehlers’ guys made their fans proud and proposed a very solid and entertaining hockey. Is this season unrepeatable? Well, obviously it won’t be easy to have a season like this every year. The National League is extremely balanced and it’s enough to enter even a short negative vortex in order to fall from grace.
It’s not now the time to think about it though. Now it’s time for the very well deserved holidays after this memorable season.
There will be time to talk about the future…
Enjoy your holiday, dear Tigers… keep on roaring!