Fribourg's David Aebischer is one step closer to becoming Switzerland's first Stanley Cup champion, after his Colorado Avalanche team-mates clinched a place in the final of ice hockey's greatest tournament.This content was published on May 22, 2001 - 10:40
Despite the team's success this season, Aebischer himself has needed plenty of patience in his role as reserve goalkeeper behind one of the sport's living legends.
First choice goalie Patrick Roy holds the NHL record for most playoff appearances, most career minutes, wins and shutouts. This year the 35-year-old star has also been holding Aebischer on the players' bench for all but a few isolated appearances.
On Monday, Roy was in fine form once again, blocking 28 shots to help Colorado complete a 4-1 series semi-final win over the St Louis Blues.
In the Stanley Cup final Colorado will face the New Jersey Devils who beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 in the other semi-final series. But even if Aebischer's services are not required, the Swiss goalie has already done much to enhance his status as a possible star of the future.
After becoming the first Swiss goalkeeper to play an entire NHL game, the 23-year-old from Fribourg then celebrated a shutout in only his second start. Another first came in the post-season, when Aebischer played a minute in the fifth game of Colorado's series with the Los Angeles Kings, to become the first Swiss player to feature in the NHL playoffs.
A Stanley Cup win in his first full NHL season would certainly prove a just reward for Aebischer's patience and determination this season. And with Roy becoming a free agent at the end of the current campaign, the Swiss goalie may get his chance to shine soon enough.
For now, though, Aebischer has said he is happy to learn from Roy, knowing that whatever recognition he can get in the NHL will be magnified tenfold in his proud homeland.
"There are three Swiss players in the NHL," Aebischer told the Denver Post recently. "I am the only one still playing now. I would like to take the Stanley Cup home for everyone to see. It has never been in Switzerland."
by Mark Ledsom
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