Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter powered the Swiss National hockey team to its first medal since 1953, posting eight points (five goals, three assists) in 10 games to earn silver at the 2013 IIHF World Championship.
“The tournament was phenomenal,” Niederreiter said. “We made it all the way to the finals, which was obviously a huge step for the country and for us as a team. We played great from the beginning of the tournament all the way to the end.”
Niederreiter scored a goal in three straight games to open the tournament, including a pivotal tally against Canada in a contest that he says took the Swiss team to another level.
“We started off against Sweden and we won that game,” Niederreiter said. “Right after that we beat Canada and that gave us so much confidence. We felt like it was possible to really do something in this tournament. We just kept going and building up the confidence and building up the team spirit.”
Switzerland cruised through the opening round, winning all seven games. They skated past the Czech Republic again in the Quarterfinal Round, and met Team USA in the Semifinals. Against the Americans, Niederreiter scored the game-winning goal and earned an assist later as his team won 3-0, advancing to their first Gold Medal Game since 1935.
“The Americans came out very strong after beating Russia 8-3 the game before, so we knew it was going to be a tough game against them,” Niederreiter said. “We just knew we had to leave everything out there on the ice and see what would happen after 60 minutes. The result was that we won 3-0. That was one of the best games we played in the tournament.”
And while Switzerland ran out of steam in the Finals against Sweden, losing 5-1, Niederreiter turned heads in his second World Championship appearance.
“Overall I’m definitely a better player now than I was a year ago,” Niederreiter said. “I played a lot of minutes in Bridgeport this year and had the chance to gain a lot of confidence. And I gained even more at the World Championships.”
Niederreiter led the Sound Tigers during 2012-13 with 28 goals, and finished second on the club with 50 points in 74 games. Now, his sights are set on the next level.
“I will do everything I can over the summer to be in the best shape and the best player I can be in Islanders Training Camp.”