Ambuhl is the oldest player on a men’s roster full of experience. Thirteen of the players are over 30, with two more – Gaetan Haas and Joel Vermin – set to celebrate their 30th birthdays in China. The youngest players on the list – goalie Joren van Pottelberghe and forward Denis Malgin – were born in 1997. Despite the enforced absence of a wealth of NHL talent, the Swiss have chosen not to raid the junior ranks while drawing a roster entirely from Switzerland’s National League. Several players on the roster have returned from the NHL in recent years, most recently Gregory Hofmann during this season.
Joining the legendsIn making his fifth Games appearance Ambuhl, a small and speedy winger, joins an elite group. Only 12 players have previously contested five Olympic hockey tournaments. Udo Kiessling was the first, representing West Germany and then Germany from 1976-1992. Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk were the latest additions to the club when they played for OAR in PyeongChang four years ago. Two Finns, Raimo Helminen and Teemu Selanne, have gone to six Games. Selanne’s last appearance in 2014 coincided with Jaromir Jagr’s fifth Olympic call and Hayley Wickenheiser blazing a trail as the first woman to play at five Olympic hockey tournaments.
Swiss head coach Patrick Fischer, who was a player on that 2006 roster alongside Ambuhl, brings back 11 of the team that went to PyeongChang in 2018 and 16 who played at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The last Olympic tournament saw Switzerland lose to Germany in the qualification playoff, Yannic Seidenberg potting the overtime winner at the start of the German advance to a silver medal.
“We are a well-rehearsed, pledged troop, which works with huge commitment for the same goal. The players are familiar with our philosophy and system. I’m absolutely convinced of this team and very confident that we have found a good mix of experience and skill,” Fischer said.
Goalie Leonardo Genoni is back after playing all four games in Korea, but this time he’ll be contesting the #1 position with Reto Berra, who went to Sochi in 2014 but was unable to play four years ago due to the absence of NHL players. Now he’s back in Switzerland with Fribourg-Gotteron. Joren van Pottelberghe, 24, is a relative newcomer to the international arena and is likely to play a back-up role in his first senior tournament.
On defence, three players return from the 2018 roster. Long-serving captain Raphael Diaz will go to his fourth Games and he’s joined by Ramon Untersander and Romain Loeffel from the team that went to Korea. Experience and accomplished D-man Yannick Weber, who called time on a 13-year NHL career in the summer, is also available for Olympic action after joining ZSC Lions this season.
Among the new faces, Mirco Muller could be a break-out player. The 26-year-old left his homeland as a youngster in 2012 after making just seven National League appearances with Kloten Flyers. He continued his hockey education in North America, eventually making 185 NHL appearances with San Jose and New Jersey. Unavailable for the 2018 Games, he joined Switzerland’s World Championship roster that year and produced 6 (1+5) points on the way to a silver medal. Muller came back to Europe last season to join Leksand in Sweden before returning to Switzerland with Lugano this term. Another Olympic rookie, Michael Fora, was also part of that silver medal team in Copenhagen.
Birthday bonusFor Denis Malgin, an Olympic call-up was an extra special birthday present. The Lions’ forward turned 25 on the day the roster was announced and celebrated with an invitation to Beijing. Son of Albert Malgin, a professional player in the Soviet and Swiss leagues, Denis was born in Switzerland and learned the game at Biel. He went to North America after he was drafted by Florida and showed early potential but was unable to establish a role for himself in the NHL. A successful loan spell with Lausanne last season secured a permanent return to Switzerland, where 38 points in 35 games earned him his first tournament call-up since the 2017 World Championship.
Malgin is one of the more intriguing new faces on an offence that features plenty of Olympic experience. Apart from Ambuhl, six other forwards return from the 2018 roster: Enzo Corvi, Gaetan Haas, Fabrice Herzog, Gregory Hofmann, Denis Hollenstein and Simon Moser. That group also brings significant World Championship experience, with 190 games between them and a combined 102 points in IIHF play.
Among the Olympic rookies up front, Sven Andrighetto and Joel Vermin both catch the eye. The pair were part of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship silver roster, where Andrighetto’s 9 (2+7) point haul put him alongside Corvi and Nino Niederreiter at the top of the Swiss scoring in Denmark. At that time, Vermin had just returned to Europe after four seasons with the Lightning organization, while Andrighetto was still with the Avalanche. He subsequently moved to Avangard Omsk in the KHL and returned to Switzerland with the Lions last season.
Reto Berra, Fribourg-Gotteron
Leonardo Genoni, EV Zug
Joren van Pottelberghe, EHC Biel
Santeri Alatalo, HC Lugano
Raphael Diaz, Fribourg-Gotteron
Michael Fora, HC Ambri-Piotta
Romain Loeffel, HC Lugano
Christian Marti, ZSC Lions
Mirco Muller, HC Lugano
Ramon Untersander, SC Bern
Yannick Weber, ZSC Lions Zurich
Andres Ambuhl, HC Davos
Sven Andrighetto, ZSC Lions
Christoph Bertschy, Lausanne HC
Enzo Corvi, HC Davos
Gaetan Haas, EHC Biel
Fabrice Herzog, EV Zug
Gregory Hofmann, EV Zug
Denis Hollenstein, ZSC Lions Zurich
Denis Malgin, ZSC Lions Zurich
Simon Moser, SC Bern
Killian Mottet, Fribourg-Gotteron
Sven Senteler, EV Zug
Dario Simion, EV Zug
Joel Vermin, Geneve-Servette