September 27, 2011
The Swiss International Sports & Education Center (SISEC) Selects midget hockey team went 2-for-3 on their opening weekend of play at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC).
They lost their opener on Sept. 23 to the OHA Red (CSSHL) 3-1, but recovered with a 15-2 win over the POE on Sept. 24. They closed out the weekend by beating OHA Black (CSSHL) 7-1.
Owner/operator, Fred Voser, started the SISEC hockey academy five years ago and has based the team out of Cochrane for the last four years.
“There’s a high demand for kids to come here and play hockey professionally,” said Voser, a dual Canadian-Swiss citizen, who formerly played professional hockey in Europe.
“The NHL is a dream for kids worldwide.”
The academy is entirely comprised of international players who Voser brings to Cochrane for a full 10-month period.
The players attend Bow Valley High School, emersing themselves in Canadian culture and learning the English language, hitting the ice up to two times per day along with dry land training.
The students are reliant upon the generosity and commitment of local families as billets. Calgary Flames forward, Olli Jokinen, is one of the billets who supports SISEC.
“We’re always looking to expand the program,” said assistant head coach, Topher Plonka, who took his place behind the bench in August.
“These kids are away from home and learning Canadian culture, so any help is appreciated.”
Plonka spent four years as assistant coach with the Castlegar Rebels, helping the team to earn the Kootenay Conference championship in the Kootenay Junior Hockey League last season.
Plonka is thrilled to be a part of the SISEC team, enjoying the challenge of teaching European players Canadian-style hockey — a grittier, more physical style.
“This is my first kind of lead role,” said Plonka. “My first goal is to build this program and help the expansion.”
By: Lindsay Seewalt