Switzerland ice hockey coach Ralph Krueger is hoping to call on American-based defender Julien Vauclair for the upcoming world championships in Sweden.
Vauclair's club team, Grand Rapid Griffins, were knocked out of the AHL playoffs on Monday after losing their deciding match against the Chicago Wolves. The team's elimination means Krueger could now add Vauclair's much-needed experience to his world championship squad.
Vauclair is set to fly directly to Sweden from the States on Tuesday. However the 22-year-old from canton Jura is still facing a race for fitness after bruising his foot during the play-off match.
Switzerland's Canadian-born coach is still showing no leniency towards former stars Marcel Jenni and Reto von Arx, who were sent home early from February's Winter Olympics after embarking on a late-night drinking spree. Former NHL winger Michel Riesen has since pulled out of the squad in a show of solidarity for von Arx.
Krueger's decision to concentrate on a defensive style of play in Sweden has also seen veteran forward André Rötheli pushed aside, leaving the Swiss team with a decidedly youthful appearance.
Having already reduced his roster to 23 players in line with world championship regulations, Krueger would now have to drop one more team member if he decides to select Vauclair.
Switzerland's home preparations for the championships ended on a mixed note at the weekend. Following a dire 6-1 defeat against Slovakia in Kreuzlingen on Friday, the Swiss regained some pride with a 3-3 draw against the same team 24 hours later.
Afterwards Krueger expressed his confidence in his young team but admitted that he expects "a very difficult world championships."
The tournament gets underway on Friday, when the Swiss begin their campaign with a tough-looking match against the Czech Republic. Germany and Japan are Switzerland's other preliminary round opponents.
swissinfo with agencies