Photo: HV71 forward and 2014 prospect Kevin Fiala is looking to continue the string of Swiss prospects chosen in the first round of the NHL Draft (courtesy of Andy Mueller/freshfocus)
Luca Sbisa, Nino Niederreiter, Sven Baertschi, Mirco Mueller. Since 2008, Switzerland has had more success in the first round of the NHL Draft than Slovakia or the Czech Republic, the two countries that hosted the annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and two of the hockey nations generally regarded as being stronger than Switzerland. If this trend continues, the Swiss may well surpass those two nations.
Photo: Siwss defenseman Dean Kukan is developing his game outside of the Swiss leagues, as he plays for Lulea in Sweden (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
It has been a strong season for Swiss hockey. Not only did they reach the quarterfinals at both the junior and senior levels, but they even managed, for the first time in almost a century, to be the runner-up for the senior World Championship title. But this recent and unexpected success does not mean that everything in the junior development system is rosy, and that Switzerland will produce NHL-caliber prospects for the next decade.
Photo: Forward Vladimir Tkachev has been the scoring star so far for Russia at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The preliminary round has come and gone at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, and Groups A and B each featured one fairly dominant team.
Photo: Swiss defensemen Xeno Busser (L) and Jonas Siegenthaler (R) pose together following their country’s opening win over Slovakia at the 2013 U18 WJC (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt)
Switzerland wanted to start well at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, and they did exactly that after taking a 4-1 win from Slovakia on Day 2 of the tournament.
Photo: Swiss defenseman and 2013 prospect Mirco Mueller (#5), shown here competing at the 2013 CHL Top Prospects Game, will be a key player for the Swiss at the U18 WJC (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
For two years running, Switzerland’s U18 team hasn’t been able to prevent itself from winding up in relegation round play. Once there, the teams have been able to finish on top and thus, seventh overall in the tournament. This year’s team is confident it can get over that hump and it will look at the performance of its U20 team in Ufa for inspiration.