When Mathias Seger joined his Swiss team on the Minsk Arena ice at the start of this tournament he was appearing in a record-breaking 16th World Championship.
Seger overtook Finnish defenceman Petteri Nummelin to take the outright crown for tournament appearances. Since debuting on home ice in Zurich and Basel in 1998, Seger has played in every IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships apart from the 2007 edition. He’s also played in all four Olympic Winter Games since then. We caught up with him in Minsk to ask him a few questions about his record-breaking international career.
The first win in Minsk, against Germany:
It was an important win for us. We really had to win this game. Now we have three points but we know that we’re still nowhere. If we don’t beat Finland we’ll be in the same situation as we were before the game against Germany.
Today’s game against Finland:
We need a better performance than against Germany. We have some confidence now and I hope this will be visible in our next game and that we can make a step forward. We need to work hard.
His first ice hockey experience:
I started to play when I was 5 in Uzwil. My brother played and my father too.
His first national team game:
It was an exhibition game in Kloten in 1997 against Slovakia and I scored in our own net.
His first World Championship:
It was 1998 in Zurich and Basel, Switzerland. It was a great experience that was very important for Swiss hockey and really got people excited about the game. We won two games and that got us fourth place, something that wouldn’t be possible with todays’ format.
His biggest success:
That was last year’s World Championship in Stockholm. It was an awesome experience. We gained momentum and won the games. Some of the other were teasing me because I had to wait 15 years to win a medal while they did it in their first year.
His biggest disappointment in international hockey:
They were some disappointments but I’m good at forgetting about them. Maybe the 2007 World Championship because I didn’t play there.
Whether he’s better now as a 36-year-old than seven years ago when he was cut?
In that year I simply didn’t play well enough to make the team.
Most difficult opponents:
At international level you have difficult opponents every time and today the differences between the teams are smaller. Any team can beat any other. There were some great opponents who didn’t give me much of a chance like Peter Forsberg or Pavel Bure.
What he learned from the two Swiss national coaches he’s had, Ralph Krueger and Sean Simpson:
I’ve learned many things since I’ve worked so long together with them. What they have in common is their enormous enthusiasm for hockey.
His favourite World Championship city:
Every city has been charming and mostly they’re as beautiful as the tournament is for us.
Best World Championship arena:
The arenas have always been at a high standard. I wished we would have more arenas like that in Switzerland.
How many World Championships he will play in:
This one here and then let’s see.
What he will do in May 2019 when Switzerland intends to apply to host the Worlds:
Probably I’ll watch a game and eat a bratwurst sausage on the tribune.