Last time Reto Suri played in Scandinavia with the national team, the Swiss won silver at the 2013 Worlds. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
“We have to assemble a team that sticks together”
As the Swiss national team prepares for the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, forward Reto Suri shared his thoughts on what needs to be done.
In the team’s first couple of pre-tournament games, Switzerland’s roster included very few players with much national team experience. Exceptions included defenceman Romain Loeffel and forwards Enzo Corvi and Reto Suri
“I think it was a tough start,” Suri said about his team’s 4-1 and 5-2 losses to the Czech Republic in early April. “We had a pretty young team, we didn’t have a lot of experience, but I think over the six periods we got better and better. Overall, I think we’re heading in the right direction and there’s still a long journey ahead of us before the Worlds.”
At 29 years of age and with a fair bit of international experience, Suri is now one of the players that young Swiss players look up to for leadership. He said of his role on the team: “It’s maybe a bit different than in past years, but in the end you’re playing a certain role and you try to play it as well as you can to help the team win.”
If he makes the final team, 2018 will be Suri’s fifth World Championship. His first was in 2013, where the Swiss struck silver in Stockholm. Suri had a great tournament personally, with five goals and three assists in 10 games. Since then, he’s been on teams that have finished no better than sixth. He thinks that, as a group, the Swiss have to understand that they’re not going to beat the top hockey nations in the world on talent alone, and have to get back to what was at the root of their success five years ago.
“We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” the EV Zug forward said. “Swiss hockey has improved a lot over the last few years but I still don’t think we have the depth that some of the other countries have. We have to assemble a team that sticks together, plays the same system and pay the price to win. That’s gotta be built on a strong defence with good goaltending and build it up from there. That’s what we did in 2013 and what we’ve gotta do every year, but we haven’t the last couple of years.”
Suri wasn’t on the Swiss Olympic team that finished 10th this year in PyeongChang, but he did watch the games, including the play-in game where the Swiss lost in overtime to neighbouring Germany. That disappointment was compounded as the German team – which was no more talented than the Swiss and some think even less so – then beat Sweden and Canada to make the final against the Olympic Athletes from Russia, where they came within a minute from winning it all.
“I think that was the biggest disappointment,” he said of the Olympics. “I think we’re eighth in the World Ranking right now and the Germans have passed us. We saw what they achieved. I don’t think they did anything really special but they paid the price. Everybody was on the same page, playing the system, playing solid defence, blocking shots, and that was the foundation of their success.
“For sure, that’s something that we could do too, but like I said, you’ve gotta build that from the bottom and you’ve gotta earn it.”