DETROIT – It’s been a big month for Damien Brunner, who definitely has felt the national pride for Swiss sports recently.
Obviously, reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is huge for the first-year NHL forward, who is tied for the team lead with four goals. It was also big news that the Swiss national team was good enough to reach the gold medal game at last week’s World Championship in Stockholm.
Sweden prevailed on its home ice, defeating Switzerland, 5-1, on Sunday.
Asked what would be bigger in Switzerland, bringing home the World Championship or the Stanley Cup, Brunner said, “Probably for Switzerland, it's bigger to win the World Championships because not a lot of people know that much about the NHL.”
Someone Brunner doesn’t know is Swiss IndyCar driver Simona de Silverstro, who is a rabid Anaheim Ducks fan.
The 24-year-old De Silverstro was on Detroit’s Belle Isle Monday to run hot laps in preparation of the Detroit Grand Prix on June 2. She’s a huge hockey fan, and apparently pretty good friends with a certain Swiss goalie on the Anaheim Ducks.
It was only fitting that she wasn’t pleased that the Ducks lost the seven-game series to the Red Wings, and even more that Brunner’s overtime-winner in Game 4 prevented Anaheim from grabbing a 3-1 lead in the series.
“Tell them that I am mad at them,” said de Silverstro, who is from Trun, Switzerland, about 94 miles southwest of Brunner’s home in Zurich. “I was for Anaheim, Jonas Hiller is my friend, so I was pulling for them.”
De Silverstro, who has been racing in the U.S. since 2006, is off to a strong start this year with three top 10 finishes at St. Petersburg, Fla. (sixth); at Sao Paulo, Brazil (eighth); and at Long Beach, Calif. (ninth).
Perhaps Brunner will find it in his heart to cheer for De Silverstro at next month’s Detroit race, if for nothing else, national pride.
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