On January 20th, 2020, we had the chance to spend an afternoon with the Ticino Rockets in Biasca thanks to Sebastien Reuille.

We arrived in Biasca early afternoon. It was (unfortunately as usual these times) a sunny day and therefore before entering the arena we stopped at the restaurant for a coffee. A coffee that we drank in the terrace in order to smoke a cigarette.

Meanwhile, in the corridors of the Raiffeisen BiascArena, we could see the players who were warming up in view of the afternoon training session. On the ice on the other hand, the goalies were already training under the expert guide of Pauli Jaks.

The training session – scheduled for 2:45 pm – was approaching and the players were ready. So, it all started. It was a relatively short training session in view of the important game of the next day against Sierre. It was a session during which the two coaches – Alex Reinhard and Sebastien Reuille – obviously tried to raise the morale of the players who were coming off the overtime defeat suffered on Saturday against the GCK Lions at the Cornèr Arena.

When the two coaches were showing the players what to do, there was a religious silence in the Raiffeisen BiascArena. But once the two coaches stopped talking… they players went back to work. With enthusiasm. Pucks were everywhere. During the final stages of the training session then, the team practiced shootouts, it was a funny moment. Each goal was celebrated by the players.

We mean, it was a nice training session that we watched with pleasure. Thinking that all these players have dreams. Willy-nilly in fact, Biasca is “only” a step for these players’ careers who all want to have a great future.

Just like Max Gerlach and Loic Vedova, the two guys we had the pleasure to talk to at the end of the training session. The first is – no pun intended – the first ever import player of the Ticino Rockets. The second, even though he’s still very young, he’s one of the players who played a lot of games with the Biasca based team.

For both of them the Ticino Rockets are a fantastic idea and the opportunity to play in a good league.

Loic Vedova

The project Ticino Rockets, actually the “reality Ticino Rockets” because you can’t talk about a project anymore – said Loic Vedova – is ideal for young players. As we all know in fact, it’s not easy to go from the Elite-Jr to the first team”.

Wise words, that make it clear how important for Ticino – but also for Davos and Lausanne – this team is. A team that, moreover, gives other opportunities.

Max Gerlach

As stressed by Max Gerlach, in fact, “thanks to the Ticino Rockets, young players can play in a competitive league against experienced players, learn from them and improve as players”.

Max Gerlach’s words are important. He grew up in Dallas with Mike Modano as his “idol” and changed his life to join the Ticino Rockets. The impact, anyway, was good.

It was a big change for me. A change of scenery, a change of life. I was lucky as many people helped me to adjust over here

Currently, Max Gerlach lives in Piott, near the Valascia. And who knows, perhaps the Valascia can become his next “home”. After all, this guy knows what he wants.

I want to become the best player I can, I want to play at the highest levels”, he said.

Such statements make it clear what kind of person Max Gerlach really is. He’s a guy that, even though is only 21 years old, finds himself to be a leader of a team. But this fact doesn’t scare him. Quite the opposite. Listen…

I put a lot of pressure on myself, I like to be under pressure. The Rockets gave me this opportunity that will help me a lot in the future!”.

Right, the future. The future is obviously also in Loic Vedova’s thoughts. The latter’s target is “to extend my contract with Hockey Club Lugano and to play permanently in the National League” and the latter’s dream is “to become one day Swiss Champions, with Hockey Club Lugano”.

A dream that Loic almost made true already in 2018. How to forget in fact that Loic Vedova was among the young players who played a key role in the fantastic ride of Greg Ireland’s troops that came to an end only after game-7 lost against the ZSC Lions?

That ride was unforgettable for the players and fans. Obviously also for Loic Vedova, who added that “the 2018 playoffs taught me a lot, actually they marked me and all I learned in that period I put into practice every day also with the Ticino Rockets”.

We mean, the Ticino Rockets are the bridge between the present and the future of these players. Players that obviously also have a “past”. In Max Gerlach’s case we’re talking about a particular past. Max in fact, when was a 9 years old kid, ended up on ESPN TV. We wanted to recall that episode with him.

I was a kid and I attended the game between Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators. During the break I scored a shootout that ended firstly on YouTube and then on ESPN”. This is not something that is happening every day.

I was a kid and I attended the game between Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators. During the break I scored a shootout that ended firstly on YouTube and then on ESPN”. This is not something that is happening every day.

That episode” – he continues – “was a cool experience that happened 12 years ago”. But he made it clear that “it was not the reason why I decided to be a hockey player. In fact, I’ve been dreaming to become a professional hockey player since when I was a kid”.

And this is what probably all the players who trained on Monday afternoon always wanted.

Players who are now in Biasca with their dreams that can be achieved also thanks to this team that must continue to exist. A team that deserves support. A team that at times must motivate itself considering that it plays in the general indifference of most people.

But also, a team that, regardless of the results, is very much alive. A team that, like Loic Vedova said, “is no longer a project but a reality”. A fantastic reality, that amid countless difficulties, tries its best to stay afloat and survive.

We always love to say that… we wouldn’t want to reach the moment when it’s just too late for people to realize just how important the Ticino Rockets really are.

The fact remains that our afternoon on the ice was about to come to an end when we had all these thoughts. It was an afternoon that enriched us also thanks to the second part of it. Namely, when we had the pleasure to spend some time with Alex Reinhard and Sebastien Reuille in their “office”.

That was supposed to be a 15 minutes interview, but it turned out to become a pleasant chat that lasted more than one hour. During which we had the chance to meet two great persons who are doing their best to help young players improve.

That chat we had, deserves a separate article that will be published in the next days, during which we will get to know more about the Ticino Rockets reality from the point of view of who lives this reality every day on and off the ice.

Therefore now, let’s move to one hour and a half later…

And let’s move to the moment of our departure. Before coming back home, we stopped for another coffee at the restaurant of the Arena. Meanwhile on the ice, there were many children who were training and that can potentially become the “Rockets” of the future.

Meanwhile we enjoyed our coffee, the first thing that came to our mind was that all the children deserve the continuation of the Ticino Rockets. Because the Rockets are a great chance that everyone deserves to take.

Coffee over, it was time for us to leave. With the noise of the pucks in our head and with our heart more “Rocket”. With the feeling, that the Ticino Rockets seriously deserve more support.

Once home then, in front of a glass of wine and with our cat near us eating her dinner, we started to think how to write this article. During which we waited on purpose to write that the game against Sierre ended with a defeat.

We wrote this piece in one go and with our heart. The same heart that, whoever works for the Ticino Rockets on and off the ice, has in order to gift young players with the chance of playing – like Vedova and Gerlach said – in a valuable league in order to gain experience and dream a future at the highest levels.

Thank you, guys! See you soon. We wish you all to make your dreams come true!