Already checking in at 6’1” and 180 pounds, 15 year old Nando Eggenberger didn’t look out of place a bit at the recent Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, even if Switzerland was only able to garner two points on the strength of an overtime penalty shot victory over Slovakia in the team’s final game.
Mere 4-3 and 5-3 losses to Sweden and the Czech Republic, respectively, showed that the Swiss will continue to give any and everybody fits at the international level. For Eggenberger, who already looked older and more physically mature than the majority of tournament participants, it was a solid experience he was happy to talk to Hockey’s Future about.
Hockey’s Future: The tournament is now over. What are going to be taking with you from this experience?
Nando Eggenberger: There’s a lot I can learn from this. I’ll be taking a lot of lessons back with me after playing with some, if not most, of the best this year’s class has to offer. I’ve seen that work is necessary in order to play with this level of competition.
HF: You mention the quality of the competition and guys in this draft class. What was it like for you, at your young age, to play against them?
MR: Well, I surely had respect for them and what they’ve achieved to date and what they’ll be in store for this season. You have to have that respect for them, but you have to face them with willpower and the desire to earn their respect. You can face them with fear.
HF: And did you discover areas of play in which you realized you have to improve?
MR: Surely, stickhandling. Especially the Canadians were excellent in this department and it made it almost impossible to slow them down or destroy their game. If you’re not quick and strong on the puck with your stick as well as your body, you’re not going to get anywhere
HF: What’s in store for you this winter?
MR: I’ll be playing for Davos. I’ll be part of their top junior club, in the U20 league.
HF: How would you describe yourself as a player?
MR: Very simple, I’m a power forward.
HF: Do you have a favorite player out there?
MR: Yes, Nino Niederreiter. I like his style of play a lot and how he goes to the net and works. He’s an up-and-coming player and his game is one I can relate to.
HF: Do you know him personally?
MR: I do actually. I wouldn’t say we’re friends per se, but someone I could meet up with for a coffee and talk some hockey.
HF: Do you follow the progress of Swiss NHL players, and what do you think about Swiss players participating in CHL play with the hopes of getting drafted?
NE: I do follow all of them and keep an eye on how they’re doing in the pros and what roles they’re assuming in their teams. For the guys playing in the CHL, I think it’s a good idea. They go over and get very used to not only playing on, but excelling on that smaller ice surface. I’ve personally liked seeing them go over and excel, because it shows me that that path works and it’s a route other Swiss kids can make use of to get to the NHL.
HF: Is that the type of opportunity you’d consider in the future?
NE: Yes, for sure.
HF: Where do you see yourself in two years’ time when you’re in your draft year?
NE: I’ll be very much improved in the defensive zone and will be honing the skills I need in my zone. I also feel that I’ll be developing a playmaker aspect to my game and will be able to create more offense. This won’t take away from my power game.
HF: Why did you choose the sport of ice hockey?
NE: Well, my father was a player. At first I did it more as a hobby, but with time I got more and more serious and here I am.
HF: Will we see you internationally this winter?
NE: My goal is to be playing in no less than the U18 next spring for Switzerland. I’m very much looking forward to the time in North Dakota and a chance to put my game on display as we go for gold.
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