With the Swiss hockey season around 20 games into a 50 game schedule, the NLA has an unlikely leader in Fribourg-Gotteron. The French-Swiss team who play out of the 7000 capacity Patinoire St-Léonard stadium, are in a great position to challenge for their first Swiss championship, 5 years after they were saved from bankruptcy in 2006.
The current 2 dominating clubs of Swiss hockey, HC Davos and Kloten Flyers are expectedly close behind in positions 2 and 3, only 4 points behind Fribourg with Bern, Zug and the ZSC Lions all within 12 points of first place. At the bottom of league are the Langnau, Genf and the Rapperswil, with only 7 points separating them in a relegation battle.
Fribourg’s goaltender Cristobal Huet is a familiar name to NHL fans, the Blackhawk netminder has been the starter for Fribourg since been loaned out to the Swiss club by the Chicago Blackhawks on September 27, 2010. Huet is currently leading the NLA with a GAA of 1.5 and is second in the league with 3 shutout’s in 12 games played.
A combination of 4 players are currently leading the NLA in points. Damien Brunner, Petr Sykora, Andrey Bykov and Micki Dupont all sit on 22 points. Petr Sykora, 32, was a 3rd round draft pick for Washington in 1997 and played 12 games in the NHL for the Capitals and Predators before making Swiss hockey his home. Calgary native, Micki Dupont also played a total of 23 games in the NHL before moving to Switzerland in 2008/9.
Jeff Tambellini has had a great start to his hockey career in Switzerland, registering over a point a game since moving from the Vancouver Canucks to the ZSC Lions. Tambellini, who was part of the Canucks forward group in the Stanley Cup game 7 final loss against the Boston Bruins, signed a 3 year deal with the Zurich team in July 2011.
|Damien Brunner||EV Zug||13||9||22|
|Petr Sykora||HC Davos||13||9||22|
|Andrey Bykov||HC Fribourg-Gottéron||5||17||22|
|Micki Dupont||Kloten Flyers||3||19||22|
|Petteri Nummelin||HC Lugano||6||15||21|
|Jeff Tambellini||ZSC Lions||11||9||20|
|Simon Moser||SCL Tigers||10||10||20|
|Maxim Noreau||HC Ambri-Piotta||5||14||19|
|Ryan Gardner||SC Bern||5||9||14|
|Goran Bezina||Genève-Servette HC||4||10||14|
|Reto Suri||Rapperswil-Jona Lakers||4||9||13|
Viewing figures in the NLA have once again been high, with an average attendance of 6225 per game. SC Bern’s average attendance of 15,357 is still higher than the current NHL attendances of Anaheim (14,351), New Jersey (14,074), New York Islanders (12,837), Buffalo (12,682), Nashville (12,336), Columbus (12,135), Colorado (11,843), Phoenix (9938) and Dallas (9257). The SC Bern stadium, Postfinance Arena, is the largest in Europe with a capacity of 17,131 and has almost the same seating capacity as the Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix and the Honda Centre in Anaheim.
The upcoming games to watch in the NLA will be the ZSC Lions vs HC Davos on the 29th of October, a game between two long-time Swiss hockey rivals and Kloten Flyers vs Fribourg on the 1st of November, which will have a lot of impact in determining the top 8 order for the NLA playoffs.
For more about Swiss Hockey, add me on twitter @HockeyWest
Admirer of the NHL, Canucks and the Swiss NLA. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @HockeyWest