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WORLDS: Hischier set to represent home nation at Worlds

On Sunday, Hischier was one of 25 players named to Switzerland's pre-tournament competition camp for the IIHF World Hockey Championship

by Amanda Stein / newjerseydevils.com

If Nico Hischier isn't going to be chasing the Stanley Cup, he wants to be with his Swiss national team chasing a gold medal at the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. 

On April 21, 2019 the Devils forward was announced as a member of the Swiss men's national team that will compete in pre-tournament play in Geneva later this week. 

Video: RAW | Nico Hischier to play in World Championships

"Obviously, I would rather be playing [in New Jersey] and be competing for the Stanley Cup," Hischier said. "But this year we didn't make the playoffs, so this opportunity is really good as well. My season isn't done yet, I get to play more hockey before going into the summer.

Kevin Fiala of the Minnesota Wild is the only other NHLer on the current Swiss roster. That could change however, depending on the results from the Stanley Cup playoffs results, with several high-caliber Swiss players currently competing in North America. 

For Hischier, he too wishes he could be in that mix with the Devils, but to suit up for the World Championship is a silver lining. Every hockey player wants to play and compete for as long as a season can extend. For Nico, his season will extend wearing a different jersey. 

"Just representing my country. That's [exciting]," Hischier said. "Being able to wear the [national] jersey of where I'm from… that's something special. I'm looking forward to that."

Hischier has done it before, just not at this level. The last time he wore his national team jersey was at the 2017 World Juniors; a tournament that put Hischier on the map in his draft eligible year and helped solidify his first-overall selection by the Devils. Hischier had seven points in five games during the tournament. Now, he will compete with the Men's national team for the first time in his career.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I wasn't able to go last year, but this year I'm ready to go. I've always had fun with the national team, I'm obviously very proud to represent my country. And especially at this tournament, I've heard so many good things about it, so it should be fun."

A wrist injury kept Hischier out of last year's tournament, a year in which Switzerland medaled for the first time since 2013. Switzerland finished with the silver medal.

"For sure there's going to be expectation, but anywhere you go you have expectation," Hischier said of that silver medal finish. "For me, I'm trying to see this as a challenge. We'll all try and do our best, and at the end we'll want to say to each other that we tried our best and we'll see how it turns out."

Switzerland has medaled just nine times since 1930. Never has the small country finished with gold. For Hischier, the challenge is accepted, as he sees Swiss hockey on the rise. 

"We're a really hard-working team on the ice, we're a small country, a small hockey country but it's getting bigger and bigger," he said. "You saw it last year when we got the silver medal. It's just an exciting time for Swiss hockey and I'm excited to join the team. I'll do my best to help the team get some success."

The 20-year-old is well versed to talk about Swiss hockey. He rose through the system before making his way to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Halifax Mooseheads for a season before he was drafted. Hischier, the first Swiss-born player to ever be selected first overall in the NHL draft, sees another silver lining: the opportunity to reunite with several players he suited up with while building his career in Switzerland and says fans should keep their eyes on.

"There are some really good players who play in the Swiss league," he said. "There's one guy named Gaëtan Haas who is pretty good and Simon Moser, I've played with both of them. They're really good and I'm excited to play with them again."

Hischier and the Swiss national team will next suit up for pre-competition play beginning on April 26 when Switzerland takes on France while in Geneva. Hischier will wear his number 13. 

The IIHF World Hockey Championship gets underway May 10 in Slovakia.  

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