Swiss schedule announced

Swiss team to face Bulldogs Dec. 28

By Josh Howald

The Ontario Hockey Association officially announced the schedule for the visiting EHC Dubendorf hockey club from Switzerland for international exhibition games against Provincial Junior Hockey League teams.

The visit for the Swiss team, which was organized in part by Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs General Manager Doug Kennedy, will begin in Kincardine, as was expected.

EHC Dubendorf will open a six-game exhibition schedule Dec. 28 with a 7:30 p.m. game against the Bulldogs. EHC Dubendorf plays in the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation's Tier III Junior League Junioren Top, which is comparable to the PJHL within the OHA. They are currently in third place in the Eastern Region of the Junioren Top League with a 5-2-1 record.

The club will take on three Pollock Division teams - Kincardine, Mount Forest and Mitchell, as well as the Alliston Hornets from the Carruthers Division and two teams from the East - the Port Perry MoJacks and the Napanee Raiders. Each PJHL team will be able to add two non-signed players from within their division for the games.

After facing the Bulldogs Dec. 28, the Swiss club will visit Mount Forest Dec. 29 and Mitchell Dec. 30. Then it is on to Port Perry Jan. 1 and Napanee Jan. 2 before closing out the tour with a Jan. 3 game against Alliston.

While the OHA has hosted many international teams over the years, this is the first time an international team will play PJHL teams.

Nico Eilinger, head coach of EHC Dubendorf, said his team is excited for the adventure.

"For every hockey player in Switzerland, and maybe in Europe, it is a dream to play games in Canada." he said. "It is a great honour for us."

He said the first goal for his troops is to have fun, but added he hopes his team will learn how to play a physical brand of hockey. They won't have much choice once the puck drops on the smaller ice surface.

"We must first get used to your game, and after we will see what happens," he said.

Kennedy, meanwhile, says he hopes this can become an annual event with more teams visiting from overseas in the next four or five years.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for our players, coaches and communities to experience the international game and to meet and learn from a group of young athletes from another part of the world and a different culture who love the game of hockey as much as we do," said OHA president Karen Phibbs.

"The players on both sides will benefit from the experience and gain a new appreciation for different approaches to playing hockey."