SC RAPPERSWIL-JONA LAKERS – Analysis of the 2018-19 season
The season was over earlier than expected… that’s, however, only because Langenthal have chosen not to play the League Qualification series.
Rapperswil finished the Regular Season at the bottom of the table and then lost the playout final. More or less, this is what we all expected. Sure, it was hoped that the team could earn some more points… but frankly speaking, on paper, the Lakers had to make a virtue of necessity as the opponents were too strong.
Having said that, it’s also fair to say that Jeff Tomlinson’s troops improved as the season went on. Therefore, this first season after the comeback in the NLA, we consider it as an excellent apprenticeship.
It’s not easy to play when losses accumulate one after another and the morale’s going down the toilet. It’s not easy to play when you’re constantly at the bottom of the table.
Rapperswil had to do it and certainly learned a lot. This season’s experience in fact, will be very useful next season as the club can still play in the NLA. And this, finally, it’s all that matters.
Could Rapperswil do better? Yeah, maybe. But in the end, the season went down the way it was supposed to be.
THE REGULAR SEASON
It all started with a 5-2 away defeat suffered in Langnau… then, in terms of results, it was a slow agony despite the team improved as the season went on. Rapperswil immediately lost 5 consecutive games and then won only 2 of the first 18. We mean, on the eve of the season we were saying that Rapperswil should have tried to earn as many points as possible during the early stages, when there was the enthusiasm due to the promotion. The truth is, instead, that the Lakers’ have been struggling to win games from the very beginning. In fact, they never won two consecutive games… and, always in fact, they’ve been spending the whole season at the bottom of the table.
Rapperswil had a decent – albeit meaningless – Ranking Round during which earned 4 wins and suffered 2 defeats. Then, they put their lifeblood into the playout final against Davos… but there was no deal to make. The season came to an early end only because Langenthal decided not to play the Ranking Round series.
Let’s see few things that in our opinion worked well and few things that didn’t work at all.
Rapperswil gained a lot of experience this season that we define as some sort of apprenticeship. On paper, the Lakers were the weakest National League’s side and unfortunately the facts proved it was truth. It’s also fair to stress, however, Jeff Tomlinson’s guys improved a lot as the season went on and oftentimes turned out to be a tough nut to crack. We mean, they never lacked of commitment. And let us not forget that Rapperswil played the Swiss Cup final for a second consecutive season.
There were those saying that Melvin Nyffeler was not ready for the NLA… there were those saying instead, that Melvin Nyffeler has all it takes to play in the top tier of Swiss hockey… well, Melvin Nyffeler proved to have all it takes to be the goalie of a NLA team! It hasn’t been easy for him who, oftentimes, was left alone… yet, he was able to keep Rapperswil afloat many times thanks to great performances.
The fans (especially away)
Rapperswil had the lowest average attendance of the league… the fans, anyway, never let the team lack of support. Especially away from home! During away games in fact, oftentimes the visitors section turned into fantastic “red walls”! We mean, Rapperswil’s fans proved to be worth the National League!
The Ranking Round was meaningless… it’s fair to say, however, that despite everything Rapperswil earned 12 points in 6 games. Only Fribourg Gottéron (13 points) did better. That’s nothing to celebrate or anything like that… but it was something that worked. Moreover, also during the playout final, the Lakers have been very committed.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Rapperswil finished the Regular Season at the bottom of the table with the worst offensive record and the worst defensive record (with Davos). They had the second worst home record and the worst away record (8 points in 25 away games!). We mean, the figures are merciless. In terms of pure results, Rapperswil’s season was catastrophic.
Lack of consistency
Rapperswil never won two consecutive games and this data alone says everything. Also when the Lakers were in a period of good form, they never really entered a positive spiral of results that would have boosted the morale and certainly would have helped to earn more points.
The power-play could have been one of the greatest weapons at Rapperswil’s disposal. And instead, Rapperswil have been struggling throughout the whole season to move the puck around and especially to put it in the net.
Early stages of the season
During the early stages of the season Rapperswil should have (must have?) taken advantage of the enthusiasm generated by the promotion and of the fact that most of the teams were still not at their best to earn more points. It didn’t happen… this is a problem that then affected the whole season since the team has never really had a positive “momentum”.
THE 3 STARS OF THE SEASON
As we’ve already said before, Melvin Nyffeler proved to be worth the NLA! Oftentimes, his performances were outstanding. It wasn’t easy considering also that many times he had to face countless shots. But overall, Melvin had a very good season.
It took Dion Knelsen a while to adapt to the NLA level… but he’s been improving a lot as the season went on and, moreover, he always gave it all during each single shift! During the second part of the season then, he also tallied a decent amount of points. He will continue his career in Olten… they will miss him in Rapperswil.
Danny Kristo wasn’t able to make the difference during the last part of the season. When he joined the club, however, he helped Rapperswil to step it up a level in the offensive zone. The guy’s got qualites and, if well assisted, he can make it very regularly into the scoresheet. We can’t wait to watch him next season as he’ll be with the team from the whole beginning.
It took a while also to Kay Schweri to raise his level of play… as the season went on, however, he became a precious player and this earned him a contract extension. He’s a very talented young man that we’ve been following since years. Next season he can play a crutial role for Rapperswil.
THE SPECIAL MENTION
It’s not easy to support your team when it almost always loses… it’s not easy to motivate yourself to go to the arena when your team is at the bottom of the table… it’s not easy to find the will to travel with your team when it plays on the road and you know that chances are high that will lose… Rapperswil’s fans, instead, created a very nice “red wall” both at home and away!
THE SEASON IN NUMBERS – THE STATS
GOALS FOR & GOALS AGAINST
Worst offensive record…. worst defensive record together with Davos… during the Regular Season. Then, things improved during playout. Instead, if we look at the chart of the distribution of goals over the arc of the games, we see that Rapperswil never scored more than their opponents. In fact, they were basically almost forced to chase them.
SHOTS & SHOTS AGAINST
Same goes over here when it comes to shots… Rapperswil are the ones who shot the less and the ones who had to face more shots. Theirs peak of shots faced was during the central periods.
SCORING & SAVING PERCENTAGE
Rapperswil’s scoring percentage during the Regular Season was extremely low… during playout insetead, it improved and was even good. This is something that also confirms how the team improved as the season went on. The saving percentage instead, was good during the Regular Season and excellent during the Post Season.
POWER-PLAY & PENALTY-KILLING
As we’ve already said, the power-play efficiency was among Rapperswil’s main problems. On the other hands, Rapperswil weren’t that bad as penalty killers… even more so considering that the team was defensively very fragile.
Both during the Regular Season and the playoffs, Rapperswil’s Corsi Index was negative. During playout, however, it was decent and closer to 50%.
Rapperswil had a very good experience that will come in hand next season. It’s just a pity that the Lakers never really entered a positive spiral that would have helped to achieve some better results.
Then again, we cannot forget that Rapperswil have been also unlucky. During the early stages of the season in fact, they lost almost immediately Matt Gilroy and Casey Wellmann becaue of injuries. The two import players were the ones required to make the difference and missed part of the season. We mean, not even Lady Luck helped the Lakers.
The players, anyway, almost always put a great committment on display and this is important. The club hasn’t fired the coach and therefore the board believes that Jeff Tomlinson is the right man in the right place.
We mean, despite everything, it looks clear that the club has a strategy. Then, if it’s gonna be the right one… well, only time will tell.
Next season will be another complicated one, but the hope is that results can be better after this season’s apprenticeship. An apprenticeship that taught a lot.
Enjoy your holidays, Lakers!