Metropolit's return highlights NLA's opening weekend

It's not often that Switzerland's National League A adds a player who scored 16 goals in the NHL the previous season, but EV Zug was the beneficiary of this rare occasion.  Glen Metropolit returned to the NLA this summer, having played for Lugano previously in 2005-06.  That year, Metropolit scored 23 goals and 65 points in 44 games, while adding 9 goals and 26 points to help the team win their 7th national championship.  His work was so impressive, that he was named Swiss league MVP and the NHL came calling for him again, playing from 2007-10 on four different teams.  That Lugano team boasted some impressive foreign content:  Ville Peltonen, Petteri Nummelin, Jukka Hentunen and Jason York all suited up for the team last year, and the three Finns and Metropolit led the team in scoring.  Now, it's a different challenge for Metropolit:  Zug's foreign players are less decorated (Josh Holden, Andy Wozniewski, Canadian-turned-Swiss Paul DiPietro, goaltender Jussi Markkanen), so he's much more relied upon even though he's now 36 years old.  His linemates are Swiss nationals Corsin Casutt and Sven Lindemann, both of whom are NLA veterans (Casutt is 25, Lindemann 32) who did not play in Zug last year.  It's a formidable challenge for the veteran, who is now playing for his 16th different professional hockey team, encompassing the ECHL, IHL, AHL, NHL, SM-Liiga and NLA. 

Going from 4th line centre with PP time in the NHL to a top line NLA player takes some adjustment, but you wouldn't know it from his hot start.  In both of Zug's games this past weekend, Metropolit scored twice and added an assist, making him the leading scorer in the league and helping the team become one of only three teams to start the season 2-0.  Certainly, the lighter schedule should help Metropolit immensely, as the 85 NHL games he played in last year will be dropped to 50 regular season games plus playoffs.  Zug finished third in the league standings last year, and bringing in an impact player like Metropolit might be the move that can help them compete with SC Bern for the championship.  Here's a great feature from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette in August on Metropolit making the move back to Switzerland.

Here's a rundown of the NLA scores and statistical leaders from this past weekend.  In keeping with Switzerland's neutral tradition, each team played one game on the road and one at home to kick things off:

 

Date
Home
Score
Visitors
Attendance
Fri 9/10
HC Ambri-Piotta
6 : 5 (OT)
Rapperswil-Jona Lakers 6325
Fri 9/10
HC Davos
3 : 0
SCL Tigers
4519
Fri 9/10
Fribourg-Gottéron
5 : 7
EHC Biel
6900
Fri 9/10
Kloten Flyers
1 : 0
Genève-Servette HC
5001
Fri 9/10
HC Lugano
4 : 3
ZSC Lions
4150
Fri 9/10
EV Zug
4 : 1
SC Bern
7015
Sat 9/11
EHC Biel
1 : 5
Kloten Flyers
4412
Sat 9/11
SC Bern
6 : 2
HC Ambri-Piotta
15781
Sat 9/11
Genève-Servette HC
3 : 2
HC Lugano
6453
Sat 9/11
SCL Tigers
3 : 4 (SO)
Fribourg-Gottéron
5216
Sat 9/11
Rapperswil-Jona Lakers
4 : 6
EV Zug
4421
Sat 9/11
ZSC Lions
1 : 4
HC Davos
8212

 

Throughout the season, almost all of the NLA's games run on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, although this week there will be no Tuesday night games, so the next games are on the weekend. 

Hat Tricks: Ryan Gardner, SC Bern (vs. HC Ambri-Piotta)

OT Winners:  Brandon Reid, HC Ambri-Piotta (vs. Rapperswil-Jona Lakers)

Leading Scorer:  Glen Metropolit, EV Zug (6 points in 2 games)

Shutouts:  Leonardo Genoni, HC Davos (23 saves); Ronald Rüeger, Kloten Flyers (shots data unavailable)

All data taken from the NLA's official website (in French and German).

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