BERNE – “We still have a lot to learn,” SC Bern head coach John van Boxmeer said after his team's two losses in the Champions Hockey League. After some sloppy work in front of goalkeeper Marco Bührer, 96-time national-team veteran Thomas Ziegler has assumed defensive duties with the Swiss league’s leader.
Since October 10th, following the 6-2 defeat against HV71 Jönköping in the first CHL round, Ziegler, a checking-line centre, has played seven games as a defenceman .
It’s not the first time that the former Tampa Bay Lightning player moved to the blueline. He already played defence for a few games during the 2005-2006 season and for most of his career before he joined SC Bern in 2001. He has been almost everywhere on the ice; First-line centre, defensive centre, winger and defenceman.
This time it seems that he won’t just temporarily be on defence. “It’s not a problem for me, I played as a defender during my junior time until someone put me in the offence,” Ziegler said.
Obviously, the 30-year-old is doing well. He has played the seven games in the starting line-up with Canadian Travis Roche as his partner. Roche re-signed with Bern until 2012 on Monday.
Ziegler’s new assignment also has a victim. Reto Kobach lost his position and he has been loaned to archrival SCL Tigers Langnau for now.
However, with the national team, Ziegler is likely to move back up front as coach Ralph Krueger prefers him as a defensive centre and Ziegler is listed on the roster for the November break – as a forward. The Swiss will play against Canada on home ice in Rapperswil and at the Deutschland Cup in Germany.
SCB forward Patrick Bärtschi will not be part of the national team. He was hit by a puck and broke a finger during the 3-2 win against HC Davos on Saturday. He will be sidelined indefinitely.