Bern, Switzerland – The horn sounded, and the fans got to their feet and applauded. Well, at least the fans who aren’t already on their feet cheer, cheer, and sing the whole game.
The Nashville Predators and SC Burn lined up the three-star blue stripes, and there was no doubt who would be No. 1.
“Roman!” public address announcer said.
“nutty!” Fans roar.
The Muscat champion had two goals and an assist for Nashville in 4-3 win the show He accepted a selling crowd of 17,031 at the PostFinance Arena on Monday as part of the 2022 NHL Global Series Challenge.
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Josie looked at “The Wall,” a huge standing section in a room only that holds about 9,000 fans. As the fans sang him, he raised his wand and waved and hit his chest.
“It was very emotional,” Josie said.
Josie played in the Stanley Cup Final, won the Norris Award as the best defender in the National Hockey League, and was named captain of the Predators. He also has the most assists (402) and points (542) among Swiss-born players in the history of the National Hockey League.
This supposedly meaningless game, however, will be the Predator’s final game before the regular season opener with back-to-back games against the San Jose Sharks in Prague on Friday and Saturday as part of the 2022 NHL World Series. There.
“I am really grateful that I had the opportunity to do this,” Josie said. “It’s something I will never forget for the rest of my life and definitely one of the highlights of my career.”
The 32-year-old grew up less than three kilometers from PostFinance Arena in a three-bedroom apartment on the ground floor on Forelstrasse in Ostermundigen, a town on the northeastern edge of Bern.
Starting at the age of four, Josie came here to skate, play youth and junior hockey and watch SC Bern play in the Pro League in Switzerland.
At first, it was at the adjacent outdoor skating rink. By the age of nine or 10, he was at the main rink, which is the same arena he played on Monday.
At the age of 16, Josie made his debut for the bigger club, playing three matches in 2006-2007. He played full time with SC Bern from 2007 to 2010, winning the National League Championship in his final season before leaving for North America. He also spent part of the 2012-13 season with SC Bern during the NHL shutdown.
“It’s my living room,” said his father Peter, smiling outside the dressing rooms. “It was three, four times a week when he started, but we [trip] It was only five minutes, so it wasn’t difficult to travel.”
When Josie plays in North America, his family, friends and fans at home must follow him from afar. His father said he could see him play in person two or three times a season. His brother, Yannick, said he could see him once or twice a season. Others do not have the opportunity.
Peter said when he went on a trip with his dad with the Predators in 2015, he told general manager David Poile that Roman’s dream was to play for the NHL at home.
Predators were originally scheduled to play SC Bern here in 2020, but the event has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And now it’s a reality, so it’s a great emotion,” Peter said. “Great emotion.”
The predators arrived on Saturday, and Josie’s family went to dinner at a local restaurant. When the Predator family rehearsed and had a group dinner at another local restaurant on Sunday, Josie’s family came.
About 20 family members and 300 friends attended the game Monday, including Roman’s paternal grandmother, Lydia, who is 93 and has never been able to travel to North America. This was the first time she had seen a Romanian play in an NHL uniform in person.
She’s so happy,” Peter Josie said. “For her, this is an emotional thing.”
It was almost too good to be true.
When starting formations were introduced, the PA announcer saved the best for last: Predators forward Nino Niedretterwho has scored the most goals (181) among Swiss-born players in NHL history, and finally Josie.
The fans shouted their family names the way they do the players at home. Every time Josie scored, fans were doing the same.
“It’s like a Hollywood story,” said Mark Street, who grew up in Bern and played 786 NHL games as a defensive player from 2005-17.
Josie wanted the perfect finish, and was everywhere to make sure he got it. He scored to tie the match 1-1 in the first half, made it 4-2 in the third, and kept pressing for a hat-trick.
“I was definitely excited,” Josie said. “I thought our guys played hard. Everyone was playing hard. It was an important game for us, the last game before our season started.
“Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”