As we often say, sport – ice hockey – is for fans and of fans. And so, let’s focus right on the fans. In this case, we want to focus on one in particular, because in our opinion there is a beautiful story to be told.

Today we talk about Maurizio, Italian guy who lives in Lombardy. He’s a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. What’s his distinguishing mark? He’s a die hard fan of the ZSC Lions!

As you all know we love to interact with our readers. It was the case also with Maurizio, a person we were lucky enough to meet thanks to Twitter. His username leaves no room for doubt: zsclionsfan. Follow him!

Over time, we started to talk, and we got to know his fantastic story as supporter of the ZSC Lions. It all started on March 17th, 2018, the day when ZSC Lions and Zug faced each other during the playoffs’ quarterfinal series.

Maurizio has a girlfriend who lives in Switzerland and he was visiting her. His better half was preparing a delicious dinner… a dinner that probably got cold. That because Maurizio, in the meantime, was forced in front of the TV and right on the TV he found himself face to face with ice hockey for the first time in his life.

Maddalena, his girlfriend, simply asked him to do what he wanted as long as he stayed away from the kitchen. It was right at that moment that a second big love was born. A love that obviously comes after the one for his girlfriend :). Maurizio in fact, fell in love with ice hockey and in particular with the troops back then coached by Hans Kossmann.

“we eat later”… “just wait a little bit please”…

And so, while dinner got cold, Maurizio’s heart warmed up. From that day on Maurizio, who hadn’t known a thing about ice hockey, started to be interested in this sport that in Switzerland is very popular. All of a sudden, he became a supporter of the ZSC Lions and started to inform himself about the rules of the game other than follow the games and stats.

Let’s face it, he was even lucky. “His” ZSC Lions in fact, won the title that year after a breathtaking final played against Lugano. That was his first joy as a new fan “A joy celebrated in my home, in Italy, just as if I were in the city on the banks of the Ceresio.” Those were his own words!

At that point one thing was missing. To watch “his” Lions live. It happened during the month of August 2019. Over time, Maurizio’s love for the ZSC Lions grew and that led to a first moment he will never forget during the 2019-20 pre-season. Zürich hosted the German side Schwenninger Old Wings in Oerlikon and Maurizio was right there. “Better a game of my Lions that an afternoon at the swimming pool, even though it was late August and it was very hot” he told us.

Among other things, Maurizio recalls that Daniel Guntern was between the pipes that day. A goalie that, in his opinion “would deserve to play more”.

Anyway, what are friendlies for? The target is to prepare themselves for the big moments of the season. In Maurizio’s case that friendly was some sort of preparation for the big moment too. One month later in fact, on September 28th, the big day came. Maurizio could finally attend his first official game!

Maurizio in fact, was at the Hallenstadion to support his favourite team that on that occasion hosted Ambrì-Piotta.

All of a sudden, I was happy like a child. I was so happy to be a part of that night, I had the impression to be at a party, a hockey party. When you can watch live your heroes it’s an indescribable emotion!

All the champions including his favourite one “Pius Suter, he was my idol already back in 2018, already before the sensational 2019-20 season. He even had a different jersey number (28 if I remember correctly?) while now his number is 44”.

Pius Suter, all right… who doesn’t like him? With all due respect though, why did he become a diehard supporter of the ZSC Lions? It’s true that the Lions played the first game Maurizio watched on TV. Then, however, he certainly had the chance to watch also other teams. The passion for the Lions of the Limmat though, never changed. Could it be because they won the title in his first year as a fan?

Obviously, the fact that they won the title that first season helped, but then the Lions proved to be a team that just never gives up. That’s an important characteristic. The 2018 playoffs were a perfect example, they won several games with only 1-goal margin”.

That’s true. In recent times in fact, the ZSC Lions have often showed some real character.

When it comes to the past instead, what does Maurizio know about the team? We tried… what does Maurizio know about two legends like Ari Sulander and Mathias Seger?

I answer straightaway… Seger number 15 and Sulander number 31. Those two guys are history and the ZSC Lions can be proud that such players played for the team. About Seger I remember an episode during the 2018 playoffs, he was on the bench and made some sign to the players on ice… he, sort of gave some instruction and that thing led to a goal scored. If I remember correctly it was during the semi-final series against Bern. About Sulander instead I remember the game won during the final series against after shootout. The latter memory obviously comes from videos I found online”.

Yep, Maurizio. You passed the test. You know, or you informed yourself thanks to the internet, two of the cult players of the team.

There is still a question we have in mind though.

Maurizio was a huge passionate of football and even played – as a goalkeeper – soccer 5. Moreover, ice hockey is not a popular sport in Italy. Wrongly so, in our opinion, considering that in the “Bel Paese” there are a lot of people who love ice hockey. Then again, how come he got so interested in this sport? What did he like about ice hockey?

I love hockey because it’s an intense sport, you always push yourself to your limit. I mean, it’s even a tactical game but there are no many breaks. The players don’t complain too much with the refs. I mean, it’s a beautiful sport”.

So much that “lately I haven’t followed football like before, I’ve paid more attention to the fact that the players think too much about mirroring themselves and put football to second place. I’m bothered by the fact that there are too many divings (that doesn’t happen so much in ice hockey). I love ice hockey so much that I started to follow it in general. I mostly follow Swiss and NA hockey”.

What a passion! A passion that, however, is difficult to feed from Italy. And so, how does Maurizio inform himself?

I mostly follow the ZSC Lions account and “MySports” that shows the highlights. After, I even discovered Leading Sport.”.

We mean, who would have thought that a simple night at home during which the girlfriend asked Maurizio to stay away from the kitchen… would have turned into the beginning of a new and great passion?

We even asked Maurizio if he has ever thought about opening a fan page or a fan club dedicated to the ZSC Lions. “I had thought about opening a Fan Page, but I’m held back by the fact that Lions fans usually speak German. Instead, I never thought about involving other people. To become a supporter of a team it must come from you, you can’t be forced by somebody else.

It’s a pity. Never say never though 🙂

We were saying, anyway. From an invitation to stay away from the kitchen to a huge passion. Who knows if Maddalena regrets the fact of putting Maurizio on sofa that evening. It doesn’t look like. Listen to that… “She didn’t become passionate like me but nevertheless she started to follow the Lions as well. Still, I will always be grateful to her because she – even though unintentionally – made me know the ZSC Lions. My love for this team grows every day just like my love for her”.

That’s a romantic touch to finish our chat with Maurizio. Italian guy, ice hockey passionate who is having a difficult time right now that, among other things, prevents him from seeing his better-half and following his favourite team. And, we add, it prevents him also from meeting as since we promised to ourselves to have a coffee together.

Maurizio remains positive though “I just can’t wait for the moment ice hockey comes back”. Certainly, to come back to attend other games. With his girlfriend Maddalena, ça va sans dire.

Sport – ice hockey in our case – always finds the way to gift us with magical emotions and unique stories. Including the one of Maurizio. Italian guy who from Italy assiduously follows his ZSC Lions thanks to his girlfriend who lives in Switzerland.

This is a nice story of love and sport.

See you soon, Maurizio 🙂