You may remember the hype surrounding a certain defenseman who joined the Hershey Bears at the end of last season. You may also remember his departure. There was similar hope at the beginning of this season that Jonas Siegenthaler would come to Hershey and round out a pretty solid group of defenders, but at the last-minute, the 19-year-old from Zurich, Switzerland departed for Zurich SC of the Swiss-A League. But he’s returned, and this time, the second round pick (#57 overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft appears poised to stay.
“Hockey is my job, my passion. I want to achieve something with this team and show everybody that I want to play here in North American and someday in the NHL,” Siegenthaler said. “I hope so soon, maybe another two years. I just try to get better every single day.”
Part of that plan to get better includes listening to what those who have enjoyed NHL success have to offer by way of advice.
“We had a bunch of former NHL guys in Zurich and they know how it works here so they told me how it work here and gave me a lot of tips and advice,” he said. “I’m really happy to play with those former NHL guys and learn from them. I think it was pretty important.”
Upon his arrival back in Hershey, Siegenthaler found yet another former NHL defenseman, Tom Gilbert, in his locker room, so the learning has continued.
“I think he’s a pretty big role model,” Siegenthaler said. “You have to look up to him and you can learn a lot from him, so I really try to keep an eye on him.”
While he’s only returned to the Bears since his season ended with Zurich-SC, he’s quickly found familiar faces from his stay in Hershey last season. And, like last year, the Bears are riding high and enjoying success, and Siegenthaler admitted that he wants to play his best game to help out as much as he can, but he can’t help but notice how different hockey is here.
“The ice is smaller and everything happens a lot quicker than in Europe, but I like the small ice rink,” he said. “You always have to be ready because it’s so fast.”
That’s not the only thing that’s different though. Siegenthaler noted that fan behavior is quite different too.
“The fans here get loud if there is a hit or a goal,” he said. “In the Swiss league there’s like, you can say hooligans, a bunch of fans that every team has and they sing the whole game. It’s pretty different, but I like it here too.”
And while the Bears are still playing in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, Siegenthaler already has a plan for the off-season.
“I got a lot of time in the summer to get ready and prepare for my next season,” he said. “I think it’s a pretty important summer here, and I try to get as in-shape as much as possible and try my best at the camp and maybe it happens or maybe not.”
One of the guys he’s looking forward to seeing is Damien Riat, Washington’s fourth round pick (#117 overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft who played for Zurich SC Swiss-A foe, Geneve Servette.
“It’s pretty fun,” Siegenthaler said of the prospect of teaming up with Riat as opposed to playing against him. “I mean I saw it in the summer that he got drafted by the Capitals and I am really happy for him that he got drafted because he deserves it. I can’t wait to see him here in Hershey and play with him. I think it was even (the series) but he did pretty well.”
While he’s enjoying his time on the ice, he also enjoys sports outside of the rink as well.
“In the summer I play tennis,” he said. “I don’t golf like everybody here, it’s not that popular in Switzerland, but maybe it’s something I’m going to start – golfing.”
One more clue that the Swiss-born defender is planning to stick around. Now if he could just find a someone to be his golf tutor. He certainly knows where to find a locker room full of them. To think – he could be working in an office somewhere (what he had been studying) if not for hockey.
Just the Facts
Drafted: 2015 in the 2nd Round (57th overall) by the Washington Capitals
Number: Hershey – 34
DOB: May 6, 1997
First AHL Goal: TBD
First AHL Point: March 23, 2016 at Lehigh Valley
The ZSC Lions officially announced on Thursday that Ziegenthaler was indeed not returning to the team, and would be “returned” to the Capitals organization this fall.
— ZSC Lions (@zsclions) April 27, 2017
By Julie Beidler
— Beids (@juliebeidler) April 27, 2017