International Ice Hockey Federation

Fiala's busy season

Fiala's busy season

Swiss forward learning as he goes

Published 14.05.2014 15:28 GMT+3 | Author John Sanful
Fiala's busy season
Swiss prospect Kevin Fiala is the first player in 11 years to play in the men's, U20 and U18 World Championships in the same season. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Kevin Fiala has represented Switzerland at the U18, U20 and World Championships all in the same season.

Kevin Fiala has played a lot of international hockey for Switzerland in 2013/2014. Fiala has the distinction of playing first for the Swiss U20 team that competed in Malmo, then the U18 World Championship and now with the men's national team at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.

He's the first player to participate in all three events in one season since Andrei Kostsitsyn and Vadim Karaga for Belarus in 2003.

While this competition in Minsk is the highest he’s faced in his young career, the results have been far less stellar for the Swiss team, which is in a transition phase as head coach Sean Simpson exits once the World Championship are complete.

“I think it is a great tournament but not for us at the moment,” said Fiala of his team’s 0-3 start. “But we think about the next game and the one after that and the one after that. We have to keep our spirits up and don’t hang our heads. We have to look forward.”

Fiala has played a lot of international hockey in a relatively short period of time.

His big break came with his inclusion on the Swiss team at the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden from 26th December through 5th January.

“When I played the U20 in December, the tournament was a definitely at a higher level than what I was used to with so many players who are eventually going to be with NHL teams,” said Fiala of the experience.

He helped Switzerland get into the quarter-finals where they would eventually lose to Canada. Fiala had a goal and four assists in five games.  

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There was carryover for Fiala when he returned to his junior team in Sweden with HV71 Jonkoping. He believes his confidence grew and that was evident in performance. Fiala played well enough to eventually get called up to the big team in the Swedish Hockey League where he impressed head coach Ulf Dahlen, no stranger to success as a player.

“I have seen him in training and he is very skilled with the puck,” said Dahlen after Fiala’s first game with HV71. “He'll work a little on the game without the puck, that's the big piece that he needs to improve but there is a lot of talent no doubt about.”

He also played for the U18 team that, as he recalls, was on a good competitive level, too. But the jump into the highest echelon of international hockey is another matter altogether.

World Championship hockey is the the most competitive of the IIHF annual tournaments. The players are bigger, faster and possessing of more international and professional experience than Fiala has faced before.

“This is a very big level here where you have NHL players like Ovechkin; I’ve never played against anybody like him,” said Fiala. “But it is fun to play against guys like him and other experienced players, to challenge them and learn from them.”

Fiala is draft eligible and that will open up additional opportunities in future years but, for now, he is focused on turning around Swiss fortunes here in Minsk.

“I’m not thinking about the draft right now. I only care about this tournament and helping my team. Let’s see what happens after.”


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