Halifax’s international hockey heroes
by Ameeta Vohra|23 DEC 2022
Attilio Biasca takes a shot during the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.
photo: Andre Ringuette / IIHF Images
While there might not be any local players suiting up for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, the Halifax fans will have a couple of reasons to cheer loudly over the next few weeks.

Attilio Biasca and David Moravec are those reasons. Both players are part of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's (QMJHL) Halifax Mooseheads but will be on opposing teams during the World Juniors.

Biasca will be suiting up for Switzerland during the tournament. The 185 cm (6'01"), 84-kg (185-pound) forward from Zug was drafted 5th overall by the Mooseheads in the 2020 CHL Import Draft.

In 28 games this season with the Mooseheads, Biasca has racked up eight goals and 19 assists for 27 points. In three years with the team, the forward has 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points in 86 games.

In Halifax, Biasca is an extension of a Swiss pipeline carrying on the heels of the success other national players have enjoyed with the Mooseheads. Timo Meier and Nico Hischier are now in the NHL, playing for the San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils, respectively.

"They're big names, but I don't put pressure on myself," he said. "I focus on myself and then the team, but it's for sure special to play for the Mooseheads because those two guys are really big in Switzerland."

The 2023 tournament will mark the third time Biasca has represented Switzerland. When the 2022 World Juniors was held this summer further west in Canada in Edmonton, the forward was an alternate captain. He excelled on the ice as a top-three performer for the Swiss team, with four goals during the tournament.

For Biasca, the moment he learned he would represent his home country in Halifax on the international stage was exciting.

"It was a special moment," he said. "In Halifax, it is pretty cool to play in front of the fans and the whole city because of how they feel about hockey, so pretty special. It's always a privilege to play for your national team. The country is going to watch, and I can't wait for the tournament to start."

Playing in his home-away-from-home is special; Biasca is focused on the task at hand.

"All I have on my mind is playing for Switzerland; now, let's play the best hockey for my country," he said.

An advantage the Swiss will have is Biasca's familiarity with playing on the North American ice surface. It took work for the forward as it takes time to adjust to the game.

"'It's a different game here," he said. "There's less time, it's more physical, and you have to play way simpler, but it needs time to adjust. We have a great coaching staff and team. It helps a lot when your teammates and everybody can give you tips. It needs time to adjust, but you get used to it."

Biasca is the true epitome of an offensive playmaker on the ice. He likes to have possession of the puck, so he can make passes and fire off the puck to the back of the net to score goals.

Having already competed previously in this tournament, Biasca has learned some lessons and hopes to build upon those experiences.

"I want to enjoy it," he said. "It's not always you can have the privilege to play in the World Juniors. It goes quickly, so I plan to enjoy every second with the team. Enjoy that you can represent the country and play in front of fans because the tournament was quick."

With his leadership roles, Biasca hopes to be a role model for his fellow Swiss teammates at the World Juniors.

"It's a privilege to have that letter on your chest, but everybody's a leader on the team," he said. "I try to lead by example, to help everybody and be a good teammate. That helps, for sure. In the end, on our team, everybody's a leader."

Biasca says fans should expect to see a Swiss team that is the hardest-working group of the tournament and will block shots and makes hits, playing simple but the hard way. Switzerland hopes this playing style will lead them to accomplish their focal goal of the tournament.

"Our goal is to make the quarterfinals," he said. "I feel like we have a good team; if we're the hard-working team in every game and we skate hard on the other team, we have a chance to win every game. I think that's going to depend on us to be the hard-working team, and then at the end, we'll see what we get there."

Biasca is looking forward to playing in front of the arguably best fans in the CHL. Not wanting to get ahead of himself, the forward knows how special it would be to play for a medal in Halifax. Biasca's focus is on playing his best hockey so the Swiss can get far in the tournament.

"It will be time that Switzerland's going to play for a medal," he said. "We have a good team, but in the end, it depends on the hard-working team. I feel like if we're going to do that, we have every chance to win, and if we're in the quarterfinals, it all starts from zero. Then it doesn't matter against who; it's win or go home. If you're in the quarterfinals, you'll always have a chance to fight for medals."
David Moravec competed one year ago at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship that started in Edmonton and Red Deer.
photo: Andrea Cardin / IIHF Images
Representing Czechia in the IIHF World Junior Championships, the 183-cm (6'01"), 83-kg (183-pound) defender was drafted 33rd overall by the Mooseheads in this past year's CHL Import Draft.

The native of Havlickuv Brod has two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 29 games in his rookie season with the Mooseheads. 

Like Biasca, Moravec has previously represented his home country on the international stage. Last December, the defender did suit up in two games for the World Juniors until the championship ended prematurely. Moravec could not join Czechia in this past summer's tournament as he was sidelined due to an injury.

Having another opportunity to play for Czechia is something that Moravec is savouring each day with the team.

"It was great to hear I was selected," he said. "I'm enjoying it here so far. It's fun to be here with the Czech boys. It's always amazing when you represent your country."

The two-way defenceman likes to play in the offensive zone and skates well. Playing on the North American ice surface with the Mooseheads and in international tournaments has helped Moravec with playing adjustments.

"There are more differences," he added. "The ice is smaller, but I think a big difference is speed."

Ultimately, Moravec wants to help Czechia accomplish its tournament goals and is excited to play in front of the Halifax fans in the coming days.

"For me, it's amazing to play in Halifax," he says. "I am home in Halifax, we have the best fans in the league, and I am excited to play our first game against Canada. It's amazing for me with so many people, and I think it will be crazier during World Juniors, so I am looking forward to playing there."