In 1904, a couple of enthusiasts established the "Ligue de hockey sur glace de la Suisse romande". This was the first attempt to give order and sense to what had up to then been chaotic skating and swinging with a stick in the Swiss lands. Only four years later, the origin of the official Swiss Hockey Federation, the LSHG, is dated, with its birth on the 27 September 1908 – one of the oldest in Europe. In the same year, as the fourth country (after France, Bohemia, and Great Britain) Switzerland registered with the International Hockey Federation (IIHF) and in the following season a domestic elite league began. The first championship was won by the team Bellerive which obtained a maximum of fourteen points from seven games.
And then things moved quickly – a newly created national team followed shortly and on 23 January 1909 Switzerland played its first official international match. In a tournament held in Chamonix they did not manage to score a goal in their first game, losing 3-0 to England. A day later though, the Swiss won, scoring eight times. Their opponents in this historic first victory was a team from Bohemia, at that time still a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At this, the hockey world began to hold the Swiss in high esteem. And partly because of this, the Swiss were elected as one of the first heads of the IIHF – in 1920 Max Sillig took the most important seat in world hockey.
In 1924 the Swiss took part for the first time in the Olympic Games in Chamonix where unfortunately they did not win a medal. Yet only four years later in St. Moritz they stood among the winners underneath the five Olympic rings.
In 1926, Switzerland became the European champion in Davos and they acieved the same success in the years 1935 and 1939. This “Golden Era“ for Swiss hockey lasted until the mid-fifties. The Swiss had been regularly winning medals in World Championship and with their playing approach they even put a scare into many teams from overseas. The local players learned from the performances of other players and they learned fast.
After World War II, the first players and coaches from Canada and the United States, who up to that time had perhaps not really believed the successes of Swiss hockey, began to flow into Switzerland. In the sixties and seventies, Europe did not take the Swiss very seriously either – even though such players as Ivan Hlinka and Milan Nový tried the Swiss league at the ends of their careers. The players wearing the Helvetian cross mainly found themselves in Group B of the World Championship. When they managed to get up among the elite teams, even defeats by fifteen or more goals were not uncommon. This oscillating performance by the Swiss even resulted in the national team dropping to Group C of the World Championship on two occasions, and the hockey picture in Switzerland often looked grim. For the past several years though, the performance of the Swiss has stabilized so that they have become regular participants in the elite group at the World Championship. In 1998 Switzerland achieved one of its best results in the senior category in recent times, in the bronze medal game they lost to the Czech Republic and ended up fourth. In 2003, in the championship in Finland, the Swiss made it to the quarter-finals, in which they faltered against the Slovaks.
The Swiss domestic league has stabilized too and always offers interesting games. In spite of the fact that the national team continues to disappoint the high expectations of its fans, competitions at the club level are a real treat for the fans. A number of Olympic winners or World Champions have played in the Swiss league. Teams build their performances from a pool of elite players from the traditional powers, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Canada, the Czech Republic, etc. The future could be good however, as companies in economically-sound Switzerland give hockey substantial support – which can be seen in their continuous improvement.
You can find the results and the calendar of 2003/04 season HERE
Silver: once – 1935.
Bronze: 8 times – 1928, 1930, 1937, 1939, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1953.
Bronze: 2 times – 1928 (St. Moritz), 1948 (St. Moritz).
Top star: Bibi Torriani.
Best NHL players, 2002/2003
David Aebischer (Colorado Avalanche, goalie, 22 games, goals against average 2.43, save percentage 91.57%).
HOW THEY ARE SEEN BY…
Rostislav Čada, former coach of HC Ambri-Piotta: “Hockey means a lot to the Swiss. It is probably the most watched sport after skiing. It attracts a lot of interest from the media, and from sponsors and viewers. The Swiss league ranks second-best in atendance in all of Europe. The atmosphere at matches is very tactful and sportsmanlike, but the fans are very spirited. For instance, in the Italian canton where Ambri is located, immediately after a defeat it is as if a huge tradgedy has occured but then in a couple of hours no one really frets much. For their league, the Swiss want only the best, and this means the best players and coaches from Europe and North America over the last few years. They have already learned that any player or coach from abroad does not have to have his place in the team assured, and they select, let’s say, “more intelligent” Canadians than the German league does. But the Swiss probably will not be among the world’s top teams anytime soon. That is to say, that Swiss hockey players are missing a certain industriousness and are not able to take responsibility. They are waiting there in the clubs to see whether the foreigners will do well or not. If they do, the domestic players will gradually join them. If they do not do it will be bad. Even though in 1998 Switzerland came fourth at the World Championship local hockey administrators have tended to live on that somewhat up to now. They do not accept that the result was reached at least a little bit with some luck and they expect that everything will happen by itself. I do not see any chance to change this approach soon.”