The first Zuger Hockey Club
EVZ’s story starts in Baar and in the beginning even had a different name: Baarer Skating Club. This was the name of the organization, founded in Baar in December 1953 under the patronat of the “Travel and Beautification” organization. Pioneers like Hans Schumpf, Hans-Peter Gasser, Peter Bieler and Richard Baltensberger founded the first ice-hockey club in Zug, and participated for the first time in a championship in the 3rd league in winter 1954/55. They could only play on a pond in Lättich in cold weather. The brewery in Baar had laid the pond so that they could have ice to cool the beer. For a few weeks this ice-field was made available to Baarer SC for their sporting activities. Between 200 and 300 fans regularly made their way to the frozen pond.
From Baarer SC to EVZ
In 1967 Baarer Skating Club qualified for the 2nd League. However, something else had a higher priority: A move to Zug and a change of name. Because KEB Zug AG’s plans to build a new ice-rink in the Herti neighbourhood in Zug had been often delayed, Baar had wanted to realise its own project “Höll” next to the spinning factory. However, once the KEB Zug project became reality, moving to the ice-rink in Zug became the obvious choice. Only the name led to a lot of discussion. Baarer SC was no longer viable – everyone agreed on this. ZSC (short for Zuger Skating Club) was already being used. The suggestion for SCZ was vetoed by the footballers from Sport Club Zug because of the danger of a mix-up. The compromise was a new name, whose abbreviation has become a brand in Swiss ice-hockey: Ice-sport Club Zug (Eissportverein Zug). Easy and catchy: EVZ!
Founding meeting 1967
5th May 1967 is the official founding date for EVZ. The founding meeting took place in the old Hotel Lindenhof in Baar on this day. The new ice-rink in Zug was opened on 25th November 1967.The “ice-hockey” spark resonated within the Zug population straight away. Over 5000 fans came to the opening tournament and celebrated victories over the 2nd League teams of Arosa and Bern.
The first season in League 2
EVZ started its very first season in November 1967 with two active teams (2nd and 3rd Leagues) plus a junior and a school team. By the end of October, there were approximately four workout training hours a week and in winter three times a week on the ice. EVZ lost its first championship game 4:7 in St. Gallen. The very first match at home took place on December 2nd in 1967 against EHC Bassersdorf in front of 1000 spectators and EVZ won 9:6. At the end of the season coach Jürg Bosshard’s team reached 3rd place. There were regularly over 1000 fans at home games and ever more junior players came to EVZ.
Promotion into 1st League
EVZ landed its first transfer coup in the 1968/69 season: Walter Wipf, who the previous year had been Swiss Champion with Kloten, was signed as trainer-manager. Along with other ex-Kloteners (Ruedi Bücheler, Jacques Bräm) and the well-known Zuger celebrities like René Bachmann and Osi Huber, Wipf brought the Zugers into the 1st League at first attempt. The newcomer, EVZ, made a great start in the 1st League too and ended the 1969/70 season as group leader. In the promotion tie games against Uzwil and Olten however they missed getting immediate promotion into League B, which was something they perhaps did not even try for: an internal questionnaire showed that three-quarters of the team were against promotion. It just wasn’t the right time. Almost logically Walter Wipf’s third and last season(1970/71) was a further year of consolidation: With its 3rd place ranking, EVZ clearly missed the promotion games.
The will to succeed returns
With the Canadian super-trainer, Derek Holmes, EVZ got its ambition back. The official goal now became promotion into the National League B. However, with a second-place ranking at the end of the 1971/72 season this was not possible and in spite of being clear group-leader the following season the team did not make it then either. In spite of the star signings of Reto Stuppan (player-manager), Gérald Rigolet and Paul Probst – all international players at the time – they lost the promotion duel against Arosa. In the decisive final home-game (4:4) the open air ice-rink was bursting at the seams with 7200 Fans.
Finally National League B!
In the 1973/74 season, EVZ strengthened the team with a fourth international (Heinz Jenni) and other seasoned NLA-players. Promotion had become a must and was to become reality at the second attempt. After having been the indisputable number one in the regular season, Zug was able to press home in the promotion matches against Chur and Uzwil. On 9th March 1974, 6795 fans celebrated the team’s promotion into National League B.
First-time National League A
Reto Stuppan pushed his team the following season (1974/75) further up and the Zuger promotion express train was not to be stopped: EVZ was number 1 in Group East and second in the promotion round. If the Swiss goal-keeper Rigolet had not been absent on account of injury, promotion into the NLA would have been certain. In the 1975/76 season the team made good on the missed opportunity: In March 1976, not even 10 years after its founding, EVZ made it into the top league following a 7:6 win in the Hallen Stadium in Zurich. The main protagonists in the most dramatic game in the Club’s history were the Finnish superstar Jorma Peltonen and the long-time serving top-scorer, Heinz Jenni. Peltonen scored 2 minutes before the end of the match to 6:6 and Jenni got the 7:6, 22 seconds before the final whistle. And all that after being behind 3:5!
Relegation into the National League B
With promotion into the NLA, the Herti Stadium was roofed and its official capacity increased from 6500 to 8350. On account of its successful first team, EVZ now had a large junior section and started the 1976/77 season with 10 teams.
Following promotion, EVZ had signed the Swiss international goalie Andy Jorns, defense player Fritz Bhend along with the forwards Ueli Lüthi, Herbert Messer and Nold Lörtscher and it was expected that they would be heading for pole-position in the League. No-one ever even considered relegation. But luck was not on the Zugers’ side. The decision to make super forward Jorma Peltonen player-manager was proven to be wrong as the Finn was completely out of his depth and had to hand over the trainer job to Dany Smit during the season. Nonetheless, relegation that season could not be averted. After 13 unlucky losses, with only one or two goal differences, EVZ went back to the NLB at the end of the season. A nightmare for the team and the on average 6940 Herti Stadium fans (still the club record)!
Just missed promotion
Under the motto “Promotion by hook or by crook” EVZ started the 1977/78 season and almost made it! At the end of the season EVZ lay just one point behind the promoted team, Lausanne. Trainer Dany Smit was again replaced by Reto Stuppan, who left at the end of the season, along with the longtime role model Oski Huber. In the final home-match EVZ-management took a vote in the stadium as to whether the team should go for promotion or for reconstruction. The crowd decided on a reconstruction programme. However, what followed was not a step forward, but a crash into mediocrity. Under the Canadian warhorse, Stu Robertson, EVZ finished the 1978/79 season in second place, but was a long way behind the promotion team Davos.
Relegation into the 1st League
The next few years were characterised by constant changes in trainer and bad signings of foreign players. In 1980/81, the team was forced into the playouts in the NLB and was close to financial ruin. President Walter Beerli resigned at the extraordinary GM and Professor Georg Keiser was elected as his successor. The prestigious chief physician at the Zuger Kanton hospital managed to avoid the financial collapse, but not the sporting demise. Under trainers Cliff Stewart and Bruce Rollin in the 1981/82 season, EVZ did not manage to get up from last place in either the qualification rounds nor in the playouts and was relegated from the National League stage on 27th February 1982.
Back in the National League B
Relegation into the 1st League was a bit like a purifying storm. Under the new Czech trainer, Frantisek Dum, the 1982/83 season saw the unbeaten Zugers get straight back into the National League B. In the deciding promotion matches both Ascona (with a total score of 14:3) and Uzwil (9:4) were beaten. Alongside experienced players like Heinz Jenni, Walter Wettenschwiler or Peter Gaw, home-grown talents like Sandro Bertaggia, Peter Stadler, Patrick Hager and Philipp Neuenschwander all played important roles in the success.
Transfer coup after promotion
Following promotion back into the National League B, the club managed an absolute transfer coup: Thanks to the “Czech Connection” at EVZ, Ivan Hlinka the Czech international with 256 caps came to Central Switzerland from the NHL-Club Vancouver. A legend in his home country and World Champion in 1972, 76 and 77, Hlinka, wearing Number 14 on his shirt, skated into the Herti Stadium in September 1983. He scored 45 goals in his first season and 30 in his second and last season in Zug when, together with the American Steven Jensen, he cannonballed EVZ securely into the last round and almost into the NLA, which had just been increased to 10 teams. Ivan Hlinka and trainer Frantisek Dum returned to their home club, Litinov, in March 1985.
Close-shave against relegation and trainer exchange
For the 1985/86 season Zug had hired the Swedish trainer Dan Hobér who had just been champion three-times in succession with AIK Stockholm and HC Davos. The plan was to go up even further, but the proven expert on the side-line was the wrong choice. After 25 matches and only one point away from relegation, EVZ President, Georg Keiser and ZSC-TK boss, Guido Tognoni, set up a legendary trainer exchange. Dan Hobér went to the falling-apart ZSC and was unable to stop their relegation.The Canadian, Andy Murray, came to the falling-apart EVZ and managed to keep the team in the League in the very last game.
Return to National League A
After having almost been relegated, the goal was to finish the 1986/87 NLB season without any worries, but this time everything went like clock-work. Andy Murray played on his network and started EVZ’s Canadian Age. The Canadian Red Laurence joined from Ambri and was the goal-scoring king five times in succession. His 62 goals in his first season remain a club record to this very day. Murray also brought the Swiss-Canadians John Fritsch and Colin and Blair Muller to EVZ and formed the Muller, Laurence and Fritsche line-up which terrified opponents for years. In third place, the team qualified easily for the playoffs and created a huge sensation by beating the overall favorite ZSC. With a 6:2 win in the fifth game and in front of 8052 fans in a jam-packed Herti Stadium Zug achieved promotion into top League for the second time on 14th March 1987.
Entrenchent in the Top League…
As opposed to its first promotion in 1977, EVZ was able to entrench itself in the Top League second time around. At the back was the sure goalie Rolf Simmen with the Swedish legend Mats Waltin in defense, at the front the top line-up scored goals just as they had done in the lower league. Andy Murray set up an especially physically strong troupe, which managed to get to 6th place in the League Table – the best result for a league new-comer in 12 years.
With the return of Philipp Neuenschwander and the Swiss-Canadian, Mike Kaszicky, the team even managed to reach 5th place in the 1988/89 season, even though the team had a heavy blow in the qualification rounds: its successful coach, Andy Murray, succumbed to siren call of the NHL and left to be assistant coach at Philadelphia. His successor was the American sunny boy, Billy Flynn, whose services were no longer required at the end of the season.
…but no more than mediocre
The next two seasons Zug remained mediocre. It was also the start of the 10 year presidential era of Fredy Egli, who had to accept a difficult start to his presidency and two early trainer sackings. Sport manager Roland von Mentlen stood in each time for the Swede Per Bäckman and the Canadian Kent Ruhnke and the team just managed to qualify for the playoffs, but more than the quarter-finals was not possible in this time..
However, two players joined the team in 1990 who were to cause a furore in the following few years: Ken Yaremchuck, Red Laurence’s successor as goal-getter and the Swiss-Canadian Misko Antisin.
First time in the playoff semi-finals
Under the young trainer, Björn Kinding, EVZ developed into a top club for the first time in the period between 1991-1994. After two fifth placements and one fourth place in the qualification, the Swede took Zug to the playoff semi-finals in his final season. The Herti Stadium exploded when Dino Kessler vanquished SCB goal-keeping legend, Renato Tosio in overtime of the 7th quarter-final. In the semi-finals against Fribourg, with their formidable Russians Bykov and Chomutov, the team had no chance (1:3) but was nonetheless given a standing ovation.
As well as Ken Yaremchuk, Misko Antisin, Philipp Neuenschwander and Colin Muller as heros on the ice was the American Tom Fergus, who unfortunately had to finish his career a year later for health reasons. And as assistant to Björn Kindling at the board in the 1992/93 was a certain Sean Simpson.
The Koleff-drama and first time in the finals
The Canadian, Jim Koleff, who had previously been assistant-coach at SC Bern, took over from Kinding. His “aggressive power ice-hockey” preaching worked quickly: The team was number 2 in the rankings with 18 points from 13 games when at the beginning of November its sporting success took second place: Koleff’s previous bout with cancer returned and the team waved good-bye to their coach with tears in their eyes as he flew off to New York for intensive therapy. The motto was now “Fight for Jim” and the team followed it! With Sean Simspson as interim-coach EVZ won the championship.
However, it was not the 8:3 win in the deciding playoff quarter-final against ZSC on 9th March which was celebrated that evening, but the return of Jim Koleff. Visibly ill, Jim celebrated the reunion in front of 7600 standing fans with sea of sparklers, and he was not the only one touched by the occasion.
Gentleman Simpson took a back seat and Jim Koleff almost finished a highly emotional season end with an enormous sporting triumph. Led by the foreign-player duo of Fergus and Yaremchuk, EVZ fought its way into the playoff final following a 3:0 victory over Fribourg for the first time. Zug was not able to capitalise on the 3:0 away lead in the fourth final game. EVZ was a deserved runner-up behind the then series champion, Kloten!
The Zugers were able to strengthen the team further with top players such as André Rötheli, Patrick Sutter and Bill McDougall but had to wait a further two years for their first title. The team lost in 1995/96 in the semi-final and the following year in the second final against SC Bern. Jim Koleff left to go to Lugano and assistant Sean Simpson became his logical successor as head coach.
Finally Swiss Champion!
In 1998 EVZ reached the playoff final for the third time (1995 and 1997). After 1st place in the qualification rounds, they skipped though the first playoff rounds with a bit of luck. After various, Rapperswil-Jona and Ambri were only able to beaten in the 7th game. Now with a 3:2 game advantage over Davos, the team set off for eastern Switzerland for the third time on Saturday, 11th April 1998. Goalkeeper, Ronnie Rüeger, who had taken the number 1 position over from Patrick Schöpf, both the defense with its international players (Dino Kessler, Patrick Suttr and André Künzi) and the forwards, Bill McDougall, Wes Walz and Misko Antisin, were all in top form. The tension amongst the crowd of 7680 spectators in the sold out stadium was palpable. But Sean Simpson’s team played masterfully and at 22.18 captain André Rötheli took the Championship Trophy from National League CEO Kurt Locher.
A huge party night followed in Zug after the great triumph in Davos. Honking car horns, blocked streets and euphoric fans everywhere. The Bossardhalle, opposite the Herti Stadium, where the match had been shown on big screen, was jam packed. When the team got back from Davos at two in the morning and dived into the fan masses with the trophy the old Herti Stadium seemed to explode. Between 3000 and 4000 fans had stayed awake for this great moment.
Quarter-finals as end of the road
EVZ had a hard time in the years following its three appearances in the final and its great triumph of 1998. Key players such as Antisin or McDougall had left the team and the new foreign players could not really replace them. During the season Sean Simpson informed that he would be heading for Munich. In the first year after the title win they nonetheless achieved 5th place in the regular season and qualified for the playoffs (1:4 against Lugano). This also saw the end of Fredy Egli’s presidency, who was succeeded by Gusti von Waartburg. After that Zug did not get further than the quarter-finals, even though with Paul Di Pietro, Chris Tancil and Todd Elik several highly paid foreign players had joined and with André Rötheli, the team had one of the best goal-scorers in the League.
Both within and outside the club there was a great deal of unsatisfaction.
On the edge of relegation
The team was old and often appeared unmotivated and disinterested, and after the 0:4 defeat against Kloten in the first playoff round 2000/1, led to the creation of an internal task force, which was supposed to find out the reasons for the stagnation. One of the reasons given was groupings with a lack of engagement and the main culprits were mentioned by name. As a result of this the most criticized “sinners” left André Rötheli, Patrick Sutter (both to Lugano), Dino Kessler (to Geneva) and Andy Künzi (retired) causing the club even more sporting difficulties.
None of Sean Simpson’s successors made a serious impact in Zug. The Finn, Rauno Korpi, was replaced by the French-Canadian, André Péloffy, even before the 1999/2000 playoffs and Péloffy’s services were also no longer required after his first full season (2000/2001). The lowest point was reached under Canadian Doug Mason’s second season (2002/2003): EVZ slid down the table – a downhill slope that even Mason’s replacement, the emergency first-aider, Serge Pelletier, was not able to brake. At the end of the season Zug was at number 12 in the table, at the bottom, and the worst was now feared for the relegation fight. Only an armchair decision giving the team a belated forfait win against Friboug who had deployed a disallowed player when they won against EVZ, brought Zug to the saving 10th place.
Return of the Zuger
At the start of the 2003/2004 season Engelbert Huber took over the presidency from Hans-Peter Brändli and the original Zuger decided on a new start with original Zugers: From Hamburg, he brought Sean Simpson back to Zug, where he had won the Swiss Championships with the Elite-Juniors in 1994 and with the NLA team in 1998. With him also returned his earlier players, Patrick Fischer, Livio Fazio and Dani Giger, to where their careers as juniors had begun. From 7th position, Zug reached the playoff quarter-finals but had no chance against SCB in spite of signing the NHL legend Claude Lemieux (1:4).
In the lock-out season 2004/2005 it was finally possible to look forward again. With goalie Lars Weibel from Davos and forward Oleg Petrov from Geneva the team was strengthened by two NLA stars; on account of the NHL lock-out the Finn Niko Kapanen and the Canadian Mike Fisher joined the team After 4th position in the qualification, Geneva was blown away in the playoff quarter-finals with 4:0 wins but ZSC ended the winning streak (1:4).
First Zuger to the NHL
Zug was regularly able to prove itself as one of the top 5 in the League, but inspite of its high ambitions never managed anything beyond either the first or second playoff rounds: 2006 in the quarter-finals against SCRJ Lakers (3:4), 2007 semi-finals against Bern (1:4), 2008 quarter-finals against Davos (3:4 after being ahead 3:0).
At the end of the 2007/2008 season Sean Simpson left EVZ for a second time and transfered to the ZSC Lions. Patrick Fischer, the key-player, had already left EVZ for a while in 2006. The international forward as the first Zuger had signed an NHL contract with the Phoenix Coyotes after the Olympic Games 2006 in Turin and created a furore a year later with a short engagement at St. Petersburg in the KHL.
5 times in the semi-finals
With the Canadian Doug Shedden as head coach and his laid-back partner, the Finn Waltteri Immonen, as assistant a new era began for EVZ in the 2008/2009 season. They had previously worked together very successfully at Jokerit Helsinki. Some renowned foreign players, Josh Holden, Micki DuPont and Jay Harrison had been signed and the experienced Björn Christen and Michael Kress moved into the “lowlands” from Davos. Even so, EVZ had a tough time of it and only managed to get to 8th position in the final round after an amazing catch-up race. But then they managed to pull off a great coup in the playoff quarter-finals against Bern. All fuel was spent by the semi-finals against Kloten (0:4).
Under Doug Shedden and with the Finnish goal-keeper, Jussi Markkanen, Zug regularly after that managed to reach the playoff semi-finals, which just as regularly was end of the road. Only in the 2012/2013 season were the chances of a final and second championship really possible. After a convincing 4:0 win in Bern the big chance was thrown away in the 6th home game. In the 7th game the current champions were able to turn everything round.
Topscorer and NHL-Stars
In the Shedden era Zug provided the League with a top scorer three times: 2010 with the Canadian Glen Metropolit, 2011 with Damien Brunner and 2012 with the Swede Linus Omark. Three Zugers managed to get into the NHL in this time too: Luca Sbisa was signed by the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, Rafael Diaz by the Montréal Canadiens in 2011 and Damien Brunner by the Detroit Red Wings in 2012. 2013 saw Diaz and Brunner returning to Zug during the NHL Lock-out and led the team towards being table leader inspite of its weak start. The non-plus-ultra lock-out star in EVZ was however the Swede, Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings’ captain, who was one of the best players in the best league of the world. Zug also created headlines in the USA, when on 3rd October 2011 they beat the star team of the New York Rangers in an exhibition match in a sold-out BOSSARD Arena with 8:4.
Move to the BOSSARD Arena
The most important event in President Roland Staerkle’s presidency to date is without doubt the move from the old Herti Stadium into the ultra-modern BOSSARD Arena in 2010. The one of a kind stadium is built to the latest energy saving standards, offers the best infrastructure available for the players and is a fantastic platform for supporters, sponsors and fans alike. It is not without reason that the average attendance in the new arena has increased by over 2000 fans per match. EVZ is also responsible for catering in the new stadium. In the Legends Club, sport bar 67, on the dine&view terrace, in the boxes and other exclusive locations inside the stadiums visitors are offered a very special match experience. Moreover, two external gastronomic businesses have been taken over with Pier 41 in Zug and Zunfthaus Kreuz in Oberwil.
A Premature End
EVZ started the 2013/2014 season seemingly both financially and sportingly healthy. However, following an unsuccessful start to the season, it soon became apparent that participation in the play-offs could be in danger. Particularly so since there was an obvious double negative effect caused by unfortunate signings of new foreign players and a simultaneous rejuvenation of the regular players. Above all the team suffered with problems in the goal-keeper position throughout the whole season. In spite of a tremendous effort after the Christmas break, the team only got to tenth place in the table. It was small comfort that in this balanced league even the Champions Bern did not make it under the first eight. Missing the play-offs for the first time since 2003 cost both trainer, Doug Shedden, and sports director, Jakub Horak, their jobs. Both were dismissed the day after the end of the qualifying rounds.
In the first ever intermediate round with the last four teams and under Waltteri Immonen and Leo Schumacher the team managed to maintain its place in the league in spite of a few nervous flutters. Fortunately the points from the qualifying rounds could be taken into account, which made catching up almost impossible for the last two teams (Biel and the Lakers).
In spite of the disappointing 2013/2014 season no-one in EVZ ever doubted the adopted course. When all was said and done, provisions had already long been made on the transfer market with the signing of three internationals as key players; goal-keeper Tobias Stephan, defender Robin Grossmann, and forward Dario Bürgler. With the Champion-trainer, Harold Kreis, (Lugano in 2006, ZSC Lions in 2008 and previously in Manheim) and the sports director from SC Langenthal, Reto Kläy, the two ideal candidates to manage the team were signed. These two immediately started to ensure that the young team could be supported by a powerful quartet of foreign players. Along with old hand Josh Holden, the long-time NHL forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the Swedish offense-defense player Daniel Sondell and the goal-getting Robbie Earl the Zuger team now appeared in a much better position once again. Once the international forward Reto Suri postponed his NHL plans and indicated that he would stay with EVZ, it became apparent that the both goals for the season (position in the top-half of the league table and play-off qualification) were well within reach.
2014 is also year 1 of The Hockey Academy in the history of EVZ. The training of the first eight athletes in August 2014 marked the official start of this training concept, which is unique in Switzerland and offers athletes the ideal combination of sport, training and career. The 2+2 system enables the athletes to train as Büroassistenten EBA and Kaufmann EFZ. The focus here is on the best sports training with outstanding coaches and supervisors, ideal training structures, optimal supervision around the clock, which also includes a solid basic professional training for later on. More about this: www.thehockeyacademy.ch
In September 2016 the new SL-Farmteam EVZ Academy started its first season. The team complements the junior performance teams Elite Junior A and Novice Elite and is intended to close the gap between the Elite juniors and the 1st team of EVZ in NL. The aim is to give young players the opportunity to gain experience and playing practice at a high level, thus enabling them to make the leap to the highest league in Switzerland. In the medium term, the SL team EVZ Academy will exclusively be made up of young players aged 23 and younger, preferably from the team's own junior squad. The training of young players is a clear priority for the SL-Team EVZ Academy.
Depending on age and level of performance, the athletes who complete the training at The Hockey Academy - but also all other EVZ junior players - have the opportunity to play for the Novice Elite, Elite Junior A, EVZ Academy (SL) or the 1st team (NL). The EVZ Academy team acts in the NL as ambassador for the unique training concept of The Hockey Academy, which is unique in Switzerland, and thus ensures a nationwide increased awareness.
The year 2017 and the 2016/2017 season were all about the anniversary. The 50-year-old EVZ celebrated its anniversary with the fans and the people of Zug with various major events. The anniversary year was opened on 2 January 2017 with the home game in retro dress against Geneva. On the founding date of 5 May, 1000 invited guests filled the festively decorated BOSSARD Arena for the foundation gala. This was followed by the public festival on the first week of September with the nostalgic game in the "given out" stadium and a unique anniversary performance in October at the Zug Fair. Throughout the year, one could sense the EVZ's anchoring and popularity in the Central Switzerland region.
The sporting contribution to the anniversary was made by the first team to reach the Play-off Final 19 years after winning the title and after victories in the quarter-finals against Geneva (4:0) and in the semi-finals against Davos (4:2), but without a chance against the mighty SC Bern (2:4). Nevertheless, it was an all-round successful season, which was also reflected in the new spectator record (almost 7000 spectators on average) and in the renewed extension of the contract with coach Harold Kreis and Waltteri Immonen, who committed themselves to the increased integration of young players.
In the 2017/2018 season, the EVZ was able to confirm the good performances of the previous year and finished the Regular Season in 2nd place behind champion Bern, even taking first place in the Champions Hockey League in the group phase, but had to bow to a stronger opponent in the round of 16 (Kometa Brno). In the Championship came the rude awakening in the Playoff Quarterfinal. Despite a 4:1 start victory, the Zug-based team lost 4-1 to the ZSC Lions in the first round. In contrast to the Zurich team, who were able to improve significantly on their failed Qualification (7th) and even won the title, the Team of Zug ran out of breath in the decisive phase of the Championship. The Coaching duo had to be accused of pushing the best forces too hard and not giving the young players enough confidence or minutes of action in the season finale, so that after the season they agreed with Harold Kreis and Waltteri Immonen by mutual consent to terminate their contract prematurely. The Swiss League Farm Team, which qualified for the Playoffs for the first time in the second season, also made a positive announcement.
With the Coach Dan Tangnes, who was hired by the Swedish Linköping, a new era will begin at the EVZ in the 2018/2019 season. The 39-year-old Norwegian sees himself entirely as a trainer and thus fits in perfectly with the club's philosophy. With the co-coaches Josh Holden (who ended his playing career in March 2018) and Stefan Hedlund (who trained the EVZ farm team last season), a three-man coaching team is on the board for the first time. This should help to coach the players more individually and to bring them forward. Jason O'Leary is also a new member of the Farm Team. The 40-year-old Canadian was Assistant Coach at NL Club Geneva/Servette last season and led Langenthal to the Swiss League Championship title in 2017. He is also considered a passionate trainer.
On 2 February 2019 the EVZ wins the Swiss Ice Hockey Cup for the first time in the club's history. In Rapperswil, the team of Zug won the final 5:1. In addition to the 1200 fans who had travelled with them, a good 3,500 spectators waited for the cup-winning team at the public viewing in the BOSSARD Arena.
EVZ is vice champion: in the fifth game of the play-off final series (best of seven), EVZ lost 2-1 to SC Bern away in the PostFinance Arena and lost the series 4-1, having previously beaten HC Lugano 4-0 in the quarter-finals and Lausanne HC 4-1 in the semi-finals.
With the top transfers of goalkeeper Leonardo Genoni from SC Bern and scorer Grégory Hofmann from Lugano, Zug definitely made itself a title candidate number 1 before the start of the 2019/20 season. And Dan Tangnes' team lived up to the high expectations, even if the first place in the qualification, which seemed safe for a long time, still had to be given up to the ZSC Lions in the 50th and last round due to a 1:4 defeat in the Hallenstadion. The focus of Zug was already on the playoffs. There they would have met Fribourg-Gottéron in the quarterfinals - but then the Corona virus ended the championship dream. On March 2, the championship was first interrupted, then finally canceled on March 12. On March 13, the National League clubs decided at an extraordinary league meeting that there would be no champion, no relegated team and no promoted team.
The 2020/21 season was also marked by the Corona pandemic and the resulting financial worries. But Dan Tangnes' team did not let itself be rattled by quarantines, salary waivers and ghost games and, with incredible consistency, took first place in the regular season for the fourth time after 1995, 1998 and 2012. With 119 points from 52 games and 27 points ahead of second place, the outstanding team of the qualifiers set two new records for eternity!
The consolidated team, characterized by a winner's mentality and a tangible team spirit, also withstood the high pressure of expectations in the playoffs. In the quarterfinals (best of 7), the uncomfortable SC Bern was swept aside with a 4:2 victory, and in the semifinals (best of 5), the surprise team Rapperswil-Jona Lakers was sent on vacation with a 3:1 victory. And in the final against Geneva-Servette, which had previously clearly beaten Fribourg-Gottéron (4:1) and the ZSC Lions (3:0), only three games were enough for the EVZ to achieve the big triumph. On May 7, 2021, the Zugers ascended to the championship throne for the second time since 1998 after a 5:1 home victory and took the coveted title, which was cleverly planned, hard-earned and highly deserved. The club management's vision of becoming Swiss champions with a team that, in addition to top players, was half made up of home-grown players from the club's own junior squad, had become reality.
With a much changed squad, the EVZ tackled the mission of defending the title in the 2021/22 season. To win the championship trophy once again and celebrate it with the fans was the most ardent wish and the declared goal of the team that had won the title in 2021 virtually in camera due to the Corona pandemic. Dan Tangnes' team fulfilled this wish with an upward run throughout the season. In the regular season, they broke the 100-point barrier for the second time and started the playoffs from the "pole position" for the fifth time after 1994, 1995, 1998 and 2021. With two 4-0 series in the quarter-final against Lugano and in the semi-final against Davos, it then stormed into the final on the fastest possible path and for the seventh time since the introduction of the playoffs. What followed was unparalleled in terms of drama and emotion. Even three unfortunate defeats and a 3-0 deficit in the final series against the ZSC Lions did not deter Zug from successfully defending their title. On 1 May 2022, 7200 euphoric spectators in the BOSSARD Arena and probably just as many at the public viewing on the arena square celebrated the 3:1 victory in the "Finalissima" and the third title in the club's history. A week later, at the champions' parade through the centre of Zug and at the official champions' celebration on the Arenaplatz, thousands of enthusiastic hockey fans cheered on the new and old champions, who had written Swiss ice hockey history: Never before had a team managed to come back from a 0:3 deficit in a final series, let alone turn it into a 4:3 victory!