Last June, Gilles Senn had just graduated from school and had invited his friends, family and his goalie coach to dinner to help him celebrate. While at that dinner, he got a text message from his agent letting him know he had been selected by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
"It was a perfect moment for me because all my friends were there and my goalie coach and I was able to thank them all for helping me get to that point in my career," said the 22-year-old. "It was really special."
After a strong season in Davos of the Swiss National League, Senn was invited to represent his native country at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark as Switzerland's third goalie.
"We like to have our third goalie be a young kid so we can help develop them into something more," explained Swiss head coach Patrick Fischer. "He gets to work with our goalie coach every day and he gets to learn from Reto Berra and Leonardo Genoni - they're probably his idols, I don't know - but to learn from them and go home inspired and motivated to get better and get to that level. He is our future and we need to give him as much time at this level as possible. He loves it and he's accepted the role great and he's going to be a very good goalie."
Prior to the tournament, Senn played in four exhibition games, earning a 2.55 goals against average and .914 save percentage.
"I think it's good for me to be with the national team and to be here," said the 6-foot-5, 192 pound goalie. "Last month, I would have been on vacation and, this month, I would be training in Davos, but I can learn a lot more being here and practicing with these great players than lifting weights all the time."
During the games, he sits in the stands and watches the goalies, both because he has to and because he's looking for things he can implement in his game.
"I have some jobs to do from our goalie coach, some things I have to watch," Senn explained. "But, I watch every goalie from every country because they all have something that I can take with me to get better and use in the next practice or the next game."
He said he's noticed the compete level is higher at this level and guys are fighting for every puck which makes things harder for the goalies. He also knows he wants to work on communicating better with his teammates on the ice and that he wants to work on the mental aspect of the game.
"I'm very calm. So, I'm not the type of goalie to skate around and make these huge saves. I just stay in my crease and try to do my job," he said. "Watching these games, they do such a good job talking with their teammates and use their head a lot more. The play here is better than in the Swiss league and more similar to in America. So, I have to pay attention to these details and learn from them and take them with me for when I want to go to America to play."
He added: "I'm just really excited to be here and to have the opportunity to learn and be a better goalie."
Switzerland currently sits in fourth of the Group A standings with games against Russia, Sweden and France remaining in the preliminary round. The top four teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday.