Sven Helfenstein interview

By Joeri Loonen

HF: First of all I would like to thank you for taking time to do this interview. It is very much appreciated. Like last year when Switzerland tied Russia 3-3 in the opening game, Switzerland started well this year again with a 3-0 victory over Finland. What are your impressions of that game?
H: Already early on in the game we noticed Finland was a very strong team and we should worry about playing solid defense first. We took full advantage of our chances which resulted in the 3-0 victory.

HF: What about the next game vs Canada?
H: It was the same sort of game. Again we played against a very strong opponent, but this time we got down 1-0 early on. Then we needed a equalier to get back in the game and we got it when Monnet scored short handed but then we gave up the 2-1 soon after that and that should not have happened. After that we gave away some bad goals due to some sloppy defensive plays.

HF: What is the goal of Team Switzerland at this year’s World Junior Championship?
H: A medal. Of course we are hoping for a gold medal but even getting the bronze medal would be a great performance for us. I have been ended up 4th several times with the national team already, that isn’t bad but it just out of the medals and I really would like to get one this year.

HF: What you personally feel is a realistic goal for this team at the WJC?
H: We can compete for a medal, but it is essental then that all of us will play in the system and do what’s expected from them. We have to stay focussed on our tasks and if we do so we are able to achieve what we want to.

HF: You are one of the most experienced players on this team. Do you feel you have to show leadership now and if so does is put any extra pressure on you?
H: I’m not the only experienced player on the roster, we’ve got quite a few of them. Also the rest of the team is old enough to take responsibility and take care of their own duties. Therefor I don’t feel any extra pressure on me.

HF: What are your personal goals at this World Junior Championships?
H: I don’t like to talk about personal success. We’re here to achieve success as a team. If we all stay focussed on our tasks I am sure we can get a good result.

HF: What are your personal goals with SC Bern this season?
H: I want to play on the power play lines as much as possible. The last few games before I left to join with the Under 20 national team the coach shuffled the lines somewhat and the line I was playing on did quite well I think. We scored about a goal every game.

HF: You play on a line with Thibaut Monnet (Fribourg-Gotteron) in this World Junior Championships with whom you also played together at La Chaux de Fonds last seasons. Do the two of you have got so me chemistry together? -To read an interview with Monnet click here
H: We know each other very well and we know each other’s moves. That is certainly a positive thing. So far I am nt too happy with our production so far (only 1 point), but we should get improve that in our next game vs France.

HF: You have played for 4 different team in the past 2 seasons (EHC Kloten, HC Thurgau, HC La Chaux-de-Fonds and SC Bern). Do you feel at home now at SC Bern?
H: Yes I certainly do. The team is great and the fans are one of the best in the country. I am very satsified at SC Bern.

HF: How do you see you future? You have been drafted by the New York Rangers in 2000. Will you be skating in North America in the future?
H: Of course I want to, but I am not ready for it right now. I feel i need at least 2 or 3 more years in Switzerland to take my game to another level. It would have no use going to North America when you are not ready for it.

HF: Do you talk about hockey in North America with Thomas Ziegler who has skated in the NHL but is now back in Switzerland and also plays for SC Bern?
H: Yes I do. He has got the experience and sometimes I talk with him about the game overthere. I also follow North American hockey closer now then I used to.

HF: Would you mind playing in the minor leagues, unlike some other Swiss players like Ziegler, Riesen and Von Arx, who returned to Switzerland after failing to lock a spot with an NHL team?
H: You have to realize it is very hard for a Swiss player to get in the NHL. Right now there is only David Aebischer, Colorado Avalanche back-up. I think playing in the minor leagues is basically the only way to get into the NHL.

HF: Sven, thank you very much for taking this interview and good luck vs France tomorrow.
H: You’re more then welcome. It was nice talking to you