The various crossroads of Tim Ramholt

By Joeri Loonen

For young Swiss defenseman Tim Ramholt the 2003 IIHF World U-20 Championships in Canada wasn’t just his second performance at this level. He knew the scouts’eyes would be on him give the fact that he will be draft eligible for the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Having shone at the U18-level and also being voted all-star in the MAC-tournament, Ramholt’s name has been in the scouts book’s for quite some time.

Switzerland’s inability to tackle either Slovakia or the USA in the direct confrontations caused Switzerland to drop to the relegation series instead of having another shot at silverware. Ramholt: “A medal was our goal this year after we ended up 4th last year. We really wanted to reach the semi-finals again this year, but it wasn’t going to happen.” The defenseman comes up with a couple of reasons for Switzerland’s failure to shine in the group stage; In the vital game vs Team USA we got scored on twice while on the powerplay. Both times we defended stupid. With a 1-0 lead there was no reason to give away so much room. Furthermore we lacked good offense. We outshot our opponents in most games but scored far less. And our power play left much to desire as well. Just have a look at Canada to see how important having a good power play is. That is for sure one of the reasons we dropped to the relegation series.”

On the smaller ice size, the game is faster and more intense. Therefore Switzerland could have very well used the injured ial=27909″>Raffaele Sannitz who brings in size and experience, but Ramholt plays down the importance of Sannitz. “Of course Sannitz is a big center and a good passer, but we have good other centers as well. During a tournament like this you need some luck. We lacked the luck.”

Other than not facing elite opposition in the final stages of the World Juniors, Ramholt’s draft position might drop as well because of his play this season at home in Switzerland. Playing for league powerhouse ZSC Lions, he realizes the team can not give much ice time to youngsters to develop, but needs to win every game to live up to expectations from fans, media and board. Last season Ramholt nevertheless got to play 37 games for the team and saw quite a lot of ice time until the team fired Larry Huras. Under new coach Pekka Rautakallio Ramholt saw his ice time run back rapidly. Ramholt by then: “I can understand a new coach’ first priority is to get results and therefore relies on the more experienced players rather than a 17-year old, but I hope to see some more ice time in the near future.”

However this season things haven’t improved, in contrary, Ramholt was sent down to ZSC’s farm team GCK Lions in order to get some ice time. Ramholt had an 11 game streak for the 2nd division team before being called up to the big club again right after the WJC.
The few occasions Ramholt is on the ice for ZSC Lions, he continually seems to be at a crossroad.

He knows he first needs to simplify his game, and just play a solid defensive game before thinking of anything flashy offensively. On the other hand he wants to impress the coaching staff and show them he is capable of more than just doing his defensive duties. “As I said last year, I felt I needed to play more simple defensively. I think I have succeeded in that. But you are right that it is hard just to play simple when you’re fighting for more ice time”, said Ramholt.

Elsewhere in the league Ramholt sees his U-20 teammates get lots of ice time at especially Kloten Flyers, where Vladimir Jursinov has mastered the art of bringing youngsters to a higher level. Players like Patrik Bärtschi, Andres Ambühl, Severin Blindenbacher and Emanuel Peter play an important role for Kloten, whereas Ramholt has to fight for a few minutes of ice time per game. Ramholt: “It’s true the youngsters at Kloten and also HC Davos are doing good. Their development there is going well.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen to my development if I would play there. And perhaps it is time for me to move on to another team in order to get ice time.” But before that would happen Ramholt will be focussed on the remainder of this season; “My main priority at the moment is playing well at ZSC and make sure we end the regular season in good fashion and then can make a pitch for the title. Also this year will be my last year at school. I really want to get my diploma this year, that is one of the reasons I am still in Zürich. After having obtained my diploma I could consider playing for another team, it will be interesting.”

It will surely become an interesting summer at the Ramholt residence. The team is in good shape for another championship, while Tim Ramholt will be on a crossroad again, this time off the ice, pondering his future. But before it is time for that, Ramholt hopefully will be able to celebrate.

First of all, getting his diploma and after that getting drafted. That his current season could hurt his draft position, which has been dropping over the year, does not matter so much for Ramholt. “Maybe my current season does not benefit my draft position, perhaps it doesn’t hurt. Who can tell? It doesn’t matter to me rally much where I get drafted as long as I get drafted. Wherever that will be, I know I will need to work hard, now and in the future, to make sure I can fullfil my dream of playing in the NHL.”

Written by Joeri Loonen