National League: How the EHC Kloten became a dynasty from 1993 to 1996

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The title that got the ball rolling: The players of the EHC Kloten celebrate the championship title in 1993. Image: KEYSTONE

The Kloten dynasty: “We were considered the eternal second, many mocked”

rolf bichsel / keystone-sda

Four titles in a row! From 1993 to 1996, the EHC Kloten made the most impressive winning streak in the history of the Swiss playoffs. Only SC Bern under Kari Jalonen managed to get close to this record.

And before that, in the hockey stone age, only Davos, Arosa and La Chaux-de-Fonds made four or more titles in a row.

Four championship titles in a row sound like continuity. In the four seasons, however, four coaches worked in Kloten: Conny Evensson (1993/94), Putte Carlsson, Lars Falk (as a duo until the release before the 1995 playoffs) and Alpo Suhonen (1995/96). The differences between the instructors were huge: when Evensson ordered the players to get up at 6 a.m., they would set the alarm to half past five. Later under Suhonen, Kloten became the first anti-authoritarian master of our ice hockey.

Legendary jubilee photo: Roman Wager and Felix Hollenstein celebrate the third title in 1995. Image: KEYSTONE

That means: Kloten owed its dynasty primarily to the independence, responsibility and enthusiasm of the players. The leading wolf back then: Captain Felix Hollenstein, the Kloten veteran.

With the four master titles, Fige Hollenstein combines the best memories and «above all the first and fourth titles». Why the first one? Hollenstein: «The first was special because it took us seven or eight years to become a master. We were considered the eternal second. Many had scoffed: the Kloteners are not hard enough and not fighting enough. They never become masters. But then we proved the opposite and played a confident season from start to finish. The final against Friborg was one of the best I’ve seen. When it was done, there was an incredible joy, the way to get there was totally overcrowded. »

And the fourth? «The fourth title was unmatched on an emotional level. We could not understand why Alpo Suhonen had to leave after the season and wanted to give him a farewell gift. Some players also knew that they were not allowed to stay. The club was split into two camps – we on one side and the board on the other. »

Captain Felix Hollenstein talks to trainer Alpo Suhonen in 1996. Image: KEYSTONE

The key moment on the way to the dynasty was Kloten’s semi-final against Lugano in spring 1993. Kloten had previously lost four series and twice the playoff final and 13 of 14 games against the Ticino. Again Kloten lost the first game (1: 3) as a qualification winner against Lugano and in game 2 in the Resega Lugano led 2-1 until the 59th minute. Then Hollenstein equalized, and after a goalless overtime, Kloten won the penalty shootout.

With this dramatic victory the Lugano curse was defeated: Kloten won the series in four games, «Grande Lugano» was finally over. With every Kloten title win, the path in the playoffs led via Lugano.

All dams break: The EHC Kloten celebrates the fourth series title in 1996. Image: KEYSTONE

The important goals of Roman «Limi» Wager, the parades by goalie Reto Pavoni and the brilliant foreigners Anders Eldebrink and Mikael Johansson are also remembered from this time.

It is also unforgettable that the last eleven seconds were never officially played when the title was first won. Referee Bertolotti threw in the puck, but the timekeeper was already celebrating, and because Chomutow and Bykow simply left the disc thrown in and hugged and congratulated their Kloten opponents, that no longer mattered.

The Swiss ice hockey club of 1000

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