Why not a real title for the “Champion of the Hearts”?
Article - Why not a real title for the “Champion of the Hearts”?
Just as in the championship, “everybody’s darling” Ambri-Piotta is a lovable underdog at the Spengler Cup as well. The Leventines caused a stir at their last appearance in 2019 - why should 2021 not be the year they go all the way?
HC Ambri-Piotta is a hockey world heritage and a collection basin for romantics of all countries - a kind of hockey response to the non-conforming FC St. Pauli. It is a small miracle that the club has been able to hold itself in the National League to this day despite its structurally weak region. Management and the widespread fan support of the club deserve much of the credit for that. And this summer the team will be moving into their new stadium, the “Nuova Valascia” designed by Mario Botta, Despite all nostalgia for the Valascia: to finance and accomplish this stadium project in the Leventina is an impressive feat.
This new jewel will change little about Ambri’s perspectives in the championship - they will not suddenly become a title contender. They do not have the financial resources to do so, which is part of the magical charm of the club. But why not an upset at the Spengler Cup? Ambri’s biggest successes in club history (aside from derby victories over rival Lugano…) have come at European club tournaments: Ambri won the Continental Cup twice, 1999 and 2000, and the 1999 Super-Cup thanks 2-0 victory over Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Valascia.
“La Montanara”, the mystical hymn of the mountain people, which is sung only when Ambri wins, sounded then with the same powerful beauty as it did in 2019 during the Spengler Cup. Under head coach Luca Cereda, once an Ambri player himself, the underdog team turned plenty of heads. The team left the ice victorious in front of sell-out crowds in first two matchups against Salavat Yulaev (4-1) and TPS Turku (3-0), before unluckily falling to Ocelari Trinec in overtime of their semifinal matchup (3-2). Matej Stransky, meanwhile signed by HC Davos, had scored the game-winner.
Ambri’s participation was such an enrichment that the team was invited to the 2020 edition, which was cancelled due to the pandemic and now travels to Davos again. With its passion and heart, Ambri is an uncomfortable opponent for any adversary. Why should the eternal “Champion of the Hearts” not for once win a real title in Davos?
Text: SLAPSHOT/Nicola Berger Bild: Keystone