Jonas Hiller's Olympic Blog
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller blogged about the experience as the goalie for Team Switzerland during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Below is his last post.
Monday, 03.1.2010 / 1:52 PM PT / Blogs
I’ve had a few days to reflect on my time in Vancouver for the Olympics , and when I think back, there is that feeling of regret that we couldn’t win that quarterfinal game against the U.S., especially seeing how far the U.S. went and how close our game was. On the other hand, there is that satisfaction about the whole experience. You kind of remember how great all of it was. If I could have said at the beginning of the tournament that we would have lost 2-0 in the quarterfinals to the U.S., I probably would have taken it. Still, once you’re at that point, it’s a little disappointing.
But we definitely showed how much progress Swiss hockey has made compared to four years ago. We were not just lucky to win, we were good enough to play with those big teams. That was definitely a big step. That really makes me proud. It was an experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The whole thing was just unbelievable and there are so many great memories. That’s the coolest part about it, having those memories and knowing that you’ve been there and shown your best.
I thought I played well against Canada and the U.S. I wasn’t that happy about the Norway and Belarus games. But in the end, as a goalie you always have to give your team a chance to win, and I think that’s what I did in pretty much all of those games. I was able to keep our team in the lead or not get down a goal in the important spots. I always say there is improvement, but I was happy with the way I played. I was glad I was able to show the whole world what I can do.
After our last game, I had a couple of days to rest. We played Wednesday, so Thursday I was able to see the city of Vancouver a little more and Thursday night we had a team dinner. It was great to hang around those guys again because I won’t see a lot of them until the summer and some of them I won’t see until the next time I play for the national team. That was great to have that extra time with those guys. Also it was Ralph Krueger’s final game as the national team coach, so it was kind of a goodbye dinner for him as well. I flew back with my girlfriend on Friday. We had Saturday off and yesterday was my first day back on the ice. I was definitely trying to spend those days resting and loosening up mentally as well, not thinking about hockey for a few days.
I actually didn’t watch the gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada and I really wasn’t rooting for either side because we have players on both of those teams. If the Americans would have won, we could have at least said we lost to the gold medalists. I was thinking about watching the game, but it was a nice day out and I decided I’d rather enjoy it. I don’t know how many of those days I’m going to get where I can almost forget about hockey and enjoy the day. I kept track of the score, but I wasn’t feeling like I had to see that game.
Yesterday morning, I really felt like I wanted to get back on the ice and I was able to do that with the guys. I’m excited getting back with the team here in Anaheim and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. It’s great to have a whole new challenge.
Thanks to everybody who read the blog over the past couple of weeks. I know I had a lot of fun doing it, and I hope you enjoyed it.
Posted February 22 at 4:12 p.m. (Vancouver time)
After we lost to Canada in a shootout, it looked like we might have an easier time with Norway on Saturday. But they gave us a good game and we just got by them 5-4 in overtime. Some people thought we might have been tired after that Canada game, but I didn’t think so. They played the day before too, so I didn’t think fatigue was an issue. I thought we tried to change the game too much, like we thought we had to play a totally different game instead of playing simple hockey, like we did against the Canadians. We tried to force things instead of keeping the puck to the outside and moving it to the net. We were kind of throwing it blindly to the net and they were picking it up and we were back in our zone.
We might have been more mentally tired, where we thought, Well, we almost beat the Canadians, so this will be an easy game. You always know you can’t feel that way, but sometimes that’s still in the back of your head. Norway came out strong and they played a good, simple game. We had some issues with that and I’m just glad we won the game. I think in every tournament guys are going to have games where things aren’t working that well. We’re just happy it happened against Norway and we were still able to win it.
At the end we were able to forget about it because it didn’t really matter whether we got two or three points as far as our seeding in the quarterfinals, which start tomorrow.
We had sort of a recovery day yesterday where we only did a workout in the gym here in the Olympic Village. I spent the free time walking around downtown and spending some time by the ocean. My brother and a friend of his have been here over the past week. My girlfriend, who is Swiss but lives in New York, came in Friday night and she’ll stay until the end of the tournament. So, I spent a good amount of time with them. We were able to go get something to eat in the city. We had a team dinner last night, which was pretty good too. It was nice to have a day off because I played a lot of games before the Olympic break and came here and played three games in six days, so I was definitely glad to have some time to relax. It was good to get some time away from the rink and then we came back and skated today.
In that free time I thought about going to see some other events, like skiing, but it was such a great, sunny day that I decided to just enjoy the city. I’ve been watching some stuff on TV, but I was happy to think of something else besides sports. I only saw the highlights of the Canada-USA game, though I tried to catch up on the score while it was going on. I wasn’t really rooting for either team in that game. It was an interesting game, so that was good for the spectators and good for hockey. I thought the Canadians were probably going to win that game and bounce back after a tough game against us. But we felt when we played the Americans that they have a very good team and work together really well. They showed that last night.
We know this is a big game coming up for us against Belarus because if you don’t win, you’re out. Belarus is definitely a tough team. Our team played them twice in exhibition games before the tournament and they won one game and we won the other. They have a skill team and we need to keep it simple, play in their end and make their defense work. Offensively, if you give them time and space, they can do some damage. We’ve shown them in those exhibition games that we can beat them and we just need to do it again tomorrow.
Posted February 19 at 11:35 a.m. (Vancouver time)
It’s a day after we lost last night to Team Canada 3-2 in a shootout, and there are kind of mixed emotions about that game.
Right after the game I was pretty disappointed. It’s always tough when you’re so close against a team like Canada, and to lose in a shootout was tough. At the same time, we’re happy that we were able to show that we can play with a team like the Canadians, especially in front of their home crowd. That’s a good thing, but at this point we definitely wish we had won that game after getting so close.
It was pretty loud in the arena during the game, but the crowd kind of calmed down a little bit in the third period when we tied the game. We were able to kind of take the crowd out of the game. But for the most part, it was loud and noisy and it was great fun to play in that atmosphere. I knew I had to come up big for us to have a chance and that’s what I did. That’s what everybody did. I think we played one of the best games I’ve ever seen from a Swiss national team.
I made two saves in a row on Getzy and Perry with the game tied in the third period. I just couldn’t let my teammates score in that situation. But really, I didn’t realize until after the Getzy shot was in my glove that it was those two guys. I’m thinking about the puck more than I’m thinking about the shooter, so you don’t realize it right away, but a second later you kind of think, Oh, he was the guy who shot that.
After the game when we shook hands, those guys were pretty encouraging and were wishing us luck in the next game. It’s always special to play against your teammates and I’m definitely glad it went that well. I know those guys have a lot of respect for me and I was happy to prove again that I deserve to be on this level.
It wasn’t easy facing guys like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Getzy in the shootout, but I’ve faced some of the best players in the league, so it wasn’t a huge difference. I thought I made some good stops on those guys in the first three rounds and I was really hoping we would get a goal at the other end.
I got hit in the head by a puck during warm-ups and then I got hit in the head again near the end of the third period when Rick Nash crashed into me when I was freezing the puck. That one hurt a lot more than the puck hitting me and it really caught me by surprise. My head was pretty sore last night, but it feels better today.
In the locker room after the game, the talk was that we were proud of what we did, both on the other hand, we were sad because we lost a game. We tried to pick out the positives and focus on the fact that we have a game tomorrow against Norway and that’s our most important game right now. You have to forget about what happened last night, take the good feeling of what we were able to do and know that we can play with the best teams in this tournament. We need to take that and show it against Norway and whoever we play after that.
I wasn’t on the Swiss team that beat Team Canada four years ago in Torino, but that was a huge surprise at the time. I think the Swiss team was underestimated back then, but you can’t say that anymore. It’s great to know that Swiss hockey has improved so much over the last few years and to be able to play with these kinds of guys, I’m really proud. At the same time, there is still a little gap and Swiss hockey has room to improve to be able to compete every night against these types of teams.
We have a skate today and we have the afternoon off, so I might try and get around the city a little bit. More importantly, I need a nap because I didn’t sleep that much last night. Our next game is tomorrow at noon, so there isn’t a lot of time to recover. That’s a big game for us coming up against Norway, and after it we won’t have games for two days. I’m looking forward to that time off and hopefully we can go into it after having some success.
Posted February 17 at 1:45 p.m. (Vancovuer time)
We lost the opening game of the tournament 3-1 to Team USA, but I felt pretty good, even though there wasn’t a lot of time to prepare for that first game. Our last game with the Ducks was Sunday and I immediately flew into Vancouver and played two days later. There was a lot of new stuff to get used to, like a new team and everything, but I thought we had a decent start.
It was surprisingly hot and humid in the rink, maybe partly because there were so many people in there. It also might have been because it’s rained the last few days. All I know is, I sweated a lot. It’s never felt like that here in Vancouver before.
It was kind of crazy that Bobby Ryan got the first goal against me, but it wasn’t until after the puck went in that I realized it was Bobby. There was kind of a scramble right in front and the puck ended up on his stick. He shot it through a few legs and it went right over my glove. Good for him that he scored, but I would have rather stopped that one. I wish we could have gone into the first intermission 0-0, which would have been great for us. But we had a little breakdown.
I was a little tired, but I felt good. I felt it in my legs a little bit, especially in the second period when I faced a lot of shots and some power plays. They spent a lot of time in our zone. So, my legs hurt a little bit, but I got a massage to help with that. I try to take care of my body the best I can in situations like this, kind of like playing both games of a back-to-back. I’ll do a 10-minute flush ride on the bike right after the game, stretch a little bit, eat properly and drink a lot – especially in games like this first one where I sweat a lot. I have 48 hours between games now, so hopefully I’ll be able to recover a little more.
It’s not exactly easy that we have to face Team USA and then Team Canada in the first two games of this tournament. It would have been nice to have an easier schedule to start. On the other hand, it’s just great being in the Olympics at all and face teams like these. You want to face the best teams and it’s really an honor to go against these guys. We were excited and we were definitely hoping to get something going against Team USA, but it just wasn’t good enough. I do see some room for improvement for our team and I think we’ll have a better game against Team Canada.
Away from the rink, one of the great parts about being here is living in the Olympic Village. You’re hanging around with the best athletes in the world, not just hockey players. It’s pretty cool because you see some of these guys on TV and then you’re eating next to them in the food court and chatting with them. You usually hang around with athletes from your country, but it’s really cool to meet people from other nations as well and get to know people from different sports. There are actually two Olympic Villages here – one in Vancouver (where we are) and one in Whistler. Most of the skiers and snowboarders are staying at the one in Whistler, so we don’t see them as often.
They’ve done a really nice job with the Olympic Village this year. I was with the Swiss team in Torino, Italy in 2006 for just a couple of days and it’s a lot nicer here in Vancouver. They’re going to sell or rent out these apartments after the Games are over, so they’ve really built them properly and taken care of them. Every unit is two bedrooms, and the athletes sleep two to a room. But I’m lucky in that I’m the only one on the Swiss team that has his own room because there are 23 guys and 24 bedrooms. Our other two goalies -- Ronnie Rueger and Tobias Stephan – are sharing the other bedroom in our unit. We’ve got TV and internet access, so it’s very comfortable.
I’d like to be able to go see some of the other events, but it’s hard to find the time. We have some extra days later in the tournament, so I might have a chance to do that. If I have the time, I’d love to see the half-pipe snowboarding. I like that event.
I haven’t had a chance yet to see a lot of Vancouver so far, since I’ve either been in the Village or at the rink. But I’ve heard guys talk about how crazy this city is, especially downtown with all the people. I’ll have a chance to go into town for dinner, so I can maybe talk about that in the next blog post, which I’ll try and do after the Canada game.