Von Arx starts NHL career with defeat
Switzerland's national ice hockey captain Reto von Arx has made NHL history, becoming the first Swiss player to play a full match in the world's top league. The game ended in defeat, though, with Chicago losing 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.
Von Arx saw plenty of action on the left flank of the Blackhawks' second line, spending more than 13 minutes in total on the ice. But the 24-year-old from the Emmental was unable to muster a shot on goal.
"It's hard for me to judge my performance," von Arx said after the game, adding that he was hugely disappointed to have lost his first NHL match.
"As far as the intensity and commitment were concerned, I have never in my life had to play at such a high level."
Despite the overall result, von Arx won praise from Chicago head coach, Alpo Suhonen. "His performance was very good, considering it was his first game," Suhonen said. "In any case he will certainly continue to be a part of the team."
In a bumper season for Swiss ice hockey no less than three of the country's players are expected to make their NHL debuts in the coming weeks. The only previous Swiss appearance in the NHL was by goalkeeper Pauli Jaks who played for just two periods in a 1995 match for the LA Kings.
Switzerland's David Aebischer is expected to see a lot more time in goal for the Colorado Avalanche this season. But as second choice goalie behind Stanley Cup legend Patrick Roy, Aebischer did not feature in his side's opening game against the Dallas Stars.
Unable to beat von Arx onto the ice, Aebischer is nevertheless expected to play around 20 games this season for Colorado.
The third Swiss player looking forward to life in the NHL is Michel Riesen. The 21-year-old forward is due to make his first appearance for the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, just 24 hours after von Arx's historic debut.
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