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How a Swiss ice hockey talent prepares for the NHL in college

How a Swiss ice hockey talent prepares for the NHL in college

Cedric Fiedler (left) plays for a college in the US state of Michigan.Image:

Swiss Cedric Fiedler is scheduled to complete his studies in the United States next spring. The 22-year-old is already thinking about his future as a professional ice hockey player.

Marcel Kuchta/Media

In April, if all goes according to plan, Cedric Fidler will complete his bachelor's degree in business administration at Western Michigan University. This will be the time when the world of ice hockey finally opens up to him – in the truest sense of the word. An Argau man should have many options. Starting a professional career in North America is just as possible as returning to Switzerland.

The 22-year-old is primarily looking forward to finally being able to focus on what he loves doing most: playing ice hockey. “Finding the balance between those two priorities hasn’t always been easy,” says the stalwart as he looks back over the past few years.

The end of the double burden

Mornings were always about training, afternoons were spent at school, and evenings were mostly about studying. NCAA tournament games were held on weekends. “I first had to learn how to deal with that pressure.” But all this will soon be a thing of the past: “I'm really looking forward to being able to focus on my body alongside ice hockey. This will make me a better player again.”

Canadian Connor McMichael (17) is checked by Swiss Cedric Fiedler (23) during the second period of an IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game on Tuesday, December 2019. 29, 2020, in Edmonton,…

Fiedler is no stranger to physical play.Photo: AP The Canadian Press

Cedric Fiedler was able to take an important step on the way to becoming a mature ice hockey player with the Swiss U-20 national team. In 2020 he was part of the junior selection. “This World Cup has helped me a lot in terms of leadership and confidence. It clicked. Since then I've been able to improve every year.”

If you look at the roster of the Swiss team, it is clear that of the eight defenders who were in the team at that time, seven of them already have a regular place with the National League team: Noah Mayer and Bastien Guggenheim in Langenau, Noah Vouardoux and Inaki Baragano in Rapperswil, and Noah Delémont in Biel, Rocco Pezzullo in Ambri, and Giancarlo Chanton in Servette.

Contacts with Swiss clubs, but…

So it should be easy for a player like Cedric Fiedler, who was able to play in a strong league like the NCAA for four years, to find a place on one of the 14 national league teams in Switzerland. “There are connections with Swiss clubs. I had options,” says the Aargau resident, who took his first steps in ice hockey at EHC Wettingen-Baden before moving to North America via EV Zug's youth division.

However, there is a high probability that you will not see Cedric Fiedler on Swiss ice rinks at the moment. In any case, his focus is clear: “I want to stay in North America. I feel like I'm close. I'm trying everything I can to achieve this dream.”

NCAA, College League, USA Men's Hockey 2023: W Michigan v North Dakota January 13 Western Michigan Broncos defenseman Cedric Fiedler 17 celebrates after scoring a goal during an NCAA men's hockey game between…

The 22-year-old wants to stay in North America after his studies.Image:

The dream, of course, would be the National Hockey League, the best league in the world. In the summer of 2022, Fiedler was invited to the Detroit Red Wings youth camp and made a good impression. “I've received good feedback. If I keep pushing, I'll have a chance.”

Thanks to his physical characteristics – he is 1.91 meters tall and weighs 93 kilograms – and his playing style as a reliable and powerful defensive defender, Fiedler fits well into North American ice hockey and has a good chance of joining the NHL organization. His advantage: he was not drafted and could now choose his employer. At the end of this NCAA season, it will be clear where the 22-year-old is headed.

Hopefully the little door at the top will open

It is unlikely that the guy from Argau will be able to join the NHL team right away. But Fiedler realizes this, too. That's one of the reasons he currently sees his spot at the second-highest level, in the AHL, where NHL teams place their farm teams. With the so-called binary contract, he would at least have the possibility of opening a small door here and there.

But Cedric Fiedler knows that the competition in North America is enormous and that you also need luck to get one of the places in the sun. He says: “I will give myself one or two seasons to achieve my goals.” I don't want to wait long. If I feel that this is not enough for me, I will return to Switzerland.”

Swiss Cedric Fiedler (23) and Austrian Finn Van Ee (26) compete with the puck during the second period of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships leading up to the competition in Edmonton, Alberta, OR...

Photo: AP The Canadian Press

Ultimately, for Fiedler, it's all about making money as a professional at some point. The prospects in the National League will be more lucrative than in the AHL, where he will only make a fraction of the Swiss's salary. “I'm already thinking about these things. Especially when I see that my former U20 teammates all have a regular place already.

Whatever Cedric Fiedler's career ends up being, he will soon receive his college degree. “You can play ice hockey until you're 35 or so. And then you have to work for another 30 years. That's why it was important for me to get a good degree.” So plan B would be there. However, he hopes he won't need it for long.

All Swiss drafted into the NHL


All Swiss drafted into the NHL

2023: Rodwin Dionisio, Anaheim Ducks, 129th.

Source: Keystone/Ron Ward

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