Nino Niederreiter Leads Undefeated Swiss Team in Scoring at Worlds, Talks Islanders

Kevin Schultz

The only Bridgeport Sound Tiger to forgo the call-up to skate around with the big club during the playoffs, Nino Niederreiter took the call from his country and headed to the IIHF Men’s Hockey Championship in Scandinavia. In six games so far, Niederreiter and his countrymen have impressed and are second in Group S out of eight teams, behind only Canada. The Swiss are also the only team in the tournament that hasn’t lost yet, with five regulation wins and one in overtime.

niederreiter

Image credit: IIHF

Niederreiter leads the Swiss team in goals with four, tying him with NHLers such as Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny in goals during the tournament (Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk leads all scorers with eight). The Islanders prospect is helping lead Switzerland’s top line along with Martin Pluss and Simon Moser.

“We have a good team and great chemistry,” Niederreiter said to Martin Merk reporting for the IIHF. “Moser and me are kind of new here but we both [have] the same style of a power forward while Pl├╝ss has lots of experience.”

The Swiss team may have a certain advantage over other teams in the tournament. Many of the teams were quickly created with mostly NHLers whose seasons had just ended. For the Swiss, they had been playing and training together for weeks, adding only Niederreiter and Nashville’s Roman Josi at the end of the NHL regular season.

Niederreiter spent the entire 2012-13 season in Bridgeport, notching 28 goals and 50 points in 74 games. In an interview at the World Championships with RTS Sport, he expressed that he would have liked to have been called up by the Islanders this season.

“Yes, especially as I had a very good start in the farm club in Bridgeport and I competed in the All-Star Game in AHL. But not everything is in my control, it’s like that.”

The decision to play at the World Championships and not join the rest of the Sound Tigers was Niederreiter’s. It certainly looks like a great decision as the 21-year old has gained international experience and is making the most of his time abroad, opening some eyes in the process.

“I asked if it was possible for me to join the team of Switzerland and was told yes,” he told RTS Sport. “I’d rather play than watch the game from the stands. I do my best to improve my situation. I think I will get another chance with the Isles at training camp in September.”

Niederreiter will be one of many Sound Tigers with a chance at making the opening night roster in September. He’ll be up against stiff competition at forward, including fellow first-round picks Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson.

For now, the Worlds are still on going with the first round finishing up today.

“We played well, but the road is still long,” Niederreiter remarked about his team’s chances in the tournament, sounding like a veteran. “We have not achieved anything.”