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Della Bella breaks into Russia

Della Bella in goal for Switzerland during the 1996 Junior World Championships Keystone

One of Switzerland's most talented young ice hockey stars is set to become the first Swiss player to play in the Russian league. Ambri-Piotta's Paolo Della Bella is expected to sign a one-year contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk this weekend.

The 22-year-old keeper has been playing in the north American university league since 1997, but was recalled to the Ambri squad for the Ticino club’s Supercup final against Metallurg. Although Della Bella did not play in that match, which Ambri lost in overtime, he put in an impressive performance in a practice game, stopping 42 shots out of 44.

The Russians decided to immediately offer him a contract which Della Bella looks unlikely to turn down. “It’s all about playing in Europe’s most prestigious league, and for the best team on the continent,” he said on Friday.

The former Swiss under-21 player is also hoping to attract the attention of the NHL scouts, who eagerly watch the Russian league for potential drafts. Della Bella is due to return to Magnitogorsk on Wednesday, one day before the Russian league programme gets underway.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR