For me it’s a home game - a home tournament, actually
Article - For me it’s a home game - a home tournament, actually
A year ago, the former HCD junior and player Nando Eggenberger (24 years old) won the Spengler Cup with HC Ambri-Piotta. Now the forward is returning, looking to defend the title and once again experience those wonderful emotions.
The Spengler Cup will take place again soon – how big is the anticipation?
Nando Eggenberger: Huge, we are all excited for this tournament and that we can participate. For me it is the second Spengler Cup and even a little more special as I come from Davos. My whole family lives in Davos, I grew up there, and still have many friends on HCD – for me it’s a home game - a home tournament, actually.
Ambri is returning as the defending champion, as special feeling?
Yes, of course, last year’s Spengler Cup win was extremely special. We know how it is and what we need to do to win the tournament. And we want to repeat it, that’s the goal.
During your time in Davos, you were at the U20 world championship, then moved to Rapperswil-Jona Lakers shortly before the 2019 tournament. And so, you experienced your first Spengler Cup in 2022. How was that premiere?
As a small boy, like all juniors, I was a helper – I was the flag bearer before the games – and took part as a spectator. To now compete in the tournament as a player is special and wonderful.
What was the most fun for you at the tournament, what did you enjoy most?
The Ambri fans, that even cheered us on during the warm-up, the atmosphere in the sold-out arena. It was nice that we didn’t lose a single game, it went perfectly, we got in a flow and finally were able to win the tournament. It was extremely cool, from beginning to end.
You scored in the semi-final against HCD – how was that?
(laughs) It was my first goal at the Spengler Cup and my first goal for Ambri, which was especially nice, but not because it was against Davos.
How was it to celebrate such a triumph in “your” stadium?
To win the Spengler Cup is already so nice. But then to do so in Davos, my home, is even nicer. And it was not with Davos, as a used to dream of, but with Ambri. I hadn’t been on the team for long but the atmosphere and everything about it – it was wonderful.
Now this is your first full season in Ambri. How are you experiencing the club?
Familiar! When I played for Davos under Arno Del Curto, it was quite tight-knit as well, everyone knew how to treat each other. I now experience this warmth again in Ambri. The togetherness, the comradery, the mood and atmosphere on the team, this cooperation amongst us, from staff to the board to us: it is like one big family and just wonderful.
Is Ambri as special as everyone says? What sets the club apart?
The stories are not exaggerated! When I came to Ambri, every home game was sold out. You can see the grandfather at the game with his grandson and how tradition is passed down. I can only confirm this familiar atmosphere, it is absolutely like I had also experienced it in Davos.
How have you settled in athletically?
I am not where I want to be yet. I had a good preparation but experienced some difficulties early in the season. The past few years I always had a good start before things went downhill. Now I will do it the other way around (laughs). They support me, they trust me, I trust them, and I think I’m on the path to get back to where I once was.
How do you see your team’s quality?
We are a very good team, with Andre Heim and Alex Formenton, who arrived during the season, we received additional quality. On defense we are very solid, too, I believe we’re a very good team.
In what way can you benefit from the move to Ticino?
For me it was an important decision to move to a top team, where I have to take on whatever role I am assigned. Or to go there where I get the role that I want, and which would help me improve. That I get to be on the ice in important situations, play on the powerplay, get lots of ice time. For me it was decisive to get the most out of myself and help out the team at the same time.
Are you not homesick for Grisons?
No, so far things are going quite well, and I like it a lot in Ticino. On days off I sometimes travel to my family in Davos or to my girlfriend, who is attending the hotel technical college in Chur – or she comes to see me.
How and where do you live in Ticino?
In Bellinzona like most players. It is definitely nice in Ambri as well, but it is a little quiet there. Many teammates Zwerger, Spacek, Heed, Hofer and Virtanen live in the same neighbourhood, and we drive to practice in Ambri four people to a car, taking turns driving. That is more enjoyable and more environmentally friendly.
At the Spengler Cup Ambri will face off against Pardubice and KalPa in the opening round. How do you rate these opponents?
Only top teams participate, and I expect very solid and strong opponents. In the end it’s always also a snapshot, the day’s form decides. I hope the opponents have an off day and we don’t – then we will win both games. (grins)
After the opening round everything is open. Is it your dream to face HCD again?
For me personally yes, I like playing against HCD and at the home tournament it is even more special. I have the feeling that, because of our outstanding fans, we are the home team when we play HCD. Thanks to the Ambri fans present, all of our games are home games!
Text: SLAPSHOT – Das Hockey-Magazin der Schweiz Foto: Keystone