This morning the first training session in the black and white jersey for Brett Connolly, the new foreign striker signed a few days ago by Lugano. The inability to see Daniel Carr back on track soon, struggling with the long Covid, has in fact induced Hnat Domenichelli to sign an eighth “import”. The 30-year-old Canadian, Campbell River (British Columbia), his birthplace, arrived in Ticino last Saturday, after a very busy week, given the birth of his second child. “I spent four days at the hospital with my wife – says Connolly during his first interview with the Ticino press -, which did not allow me to go out on the track with some regularity, but I trained intensely throughout the summer. , in view of a call from a Nhl franchise for a training camp, so I feel fit. For a month I will live alone in Lugano, but then my wife will join me ». After 600 games played in Nhl with different teams, winning the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in the 2017-18 season, you have decided to cross the Atlantic for the first time to come and play in Europe, why exactly in Lugano? «When Lugano contacted me, I was evaluating the different opportunities I had in North America, but the possibility of coming to Lugano teased me a lot and I decided very quickly. I spoke to several players who have played this championship, including two of your good acquaintances like Ryan Spooner and of course Taylor Chorney. We are good friends and have seen each other again recently. Everyone spoke very highly of the team, the club, the fans, the organization and the city. In my final decision the family aspect was very important ».
Last season, the mighty right winger (191 cm x 90 kg) played in the Rockford Ice Hogs, Chicago Blackhawks farm team in Ahl (37 games, 35 points) and describes himself as follows: “I’m a striker with a good shot and very effective in front of the door. I hope to score many goals, to give my contribution to the team. Unlike Canada, where the slopes are smaller, there is a lot of space here. Better this way, I’ll just have to get used to it as soon as possible ».
In short, a new experience, after a long career in the most important league in the world: «Of course when you start from the NHL, that feeling remains a bit bittersweet, but you can’t live on memories. Now my sporting present continues here in Switzerland, in a championship that I know little about, but of which I have only heard well. I repeat, I see a future in Switzerland for me, but especially for my family, but I want to enjoy this experience to the fullest. In North America I would have had to fight for a place in the team, here the contribution of foreigners is very strong, I have to show all my talent. Then I’ll take it season by season ».
His debut tomorrow is not certain, as confirmed by coach Chris McSorley: «We will only make a decision at the last moment. Aside from Carr, all the foreigners are ready. Connolly also trained well, he is motivated, he wants to play and be useful. He is a player with a lot of personality, who can only do well in the locker room, he is also very technical, so the bigger tracks favor him. In each match we have the opportunity to field six imported players, whoever is sick, injured, out of shape or tired will go to the stands. I’m happy to have more opportunities, as internal competition is positive ».
The line up for the match against Zurich should be the same one that took to the track with Ajoie, so with Koskinen’s confirmation in goal, but, as McSorley explained, there will certainly also be room for Schlegel during the season: «For 18 times in the season – explains the Canadian coach – we will play two days in a row. So the changeover of the goalkeeper will be automatic, so we will need all four goalkeepers, injuries and drops in form are often around the corner. We can not be found displaced ».