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ZURICH – Ten years ago, Cristobal Huet was a profilic goaltender in the Swiss league, playing with and against many of the players he faced in the Victoria Cup game on Tuesday. For example, Huet and ZSC Lions’ Canadian-born centre Ryan Gardner made the trip to the Swiss league finals once as members of the opposing teams, and the next season as team mates.
For Huet, the Lions’ strong game wasn’t a big surprise. He had lost in the Hallenstadion, the Lions’ home arena, before it was rebuilt some years ago.
“They simply played better than us, and wanted to win more than we did. If there’s a lesson in this, it’s that we’re going to have to work hard if we want to be successful,” Huet said.
“The back-to-back games are no excuse, we have no excuses, they were just better and deserved to win,” he said.
On Monday, the Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said his team had played the best game of its pre-season when the Hawks beat HC Davos 9-2.
“I think Monday’s game was misleading and had a false impression of the difference between the leagues. Tonight, we played against a well-organized and a very experienced team. That’s why they’re the European champions. They used the big ice well, and caused a lot of trouble for us all night,” Huet said, then continued:
“They outplayed and outworked us all night.”
He was also quick to praise Davos, and said that the difference between the NHL and the Swiss league is like “night and day” as far as the style of play is concerned.
“Davos was pretty good, too. But it’s hard to compare two leagues. The Swiss, and most of the European leagues, are full of great skaters and stickhandlers, and they know how to use the big ice. Maybe if we’d spend a year playing here, and they’d spend a year playing in a small rink, then we’d see,” Huet said.
After the game, Huet met Sulander in the handshaking line. He stopped, and gave his colleague a slap on the shoulder, and the two exchanged a few words.
“I told him that I just can’t seem to be able to win against him. I sure have a bad streak here in Hallenstadion,” Huet said.
“I’m still not in love with the place, new or old,” he said, smiling.