The realization of playing professional hockey during a pandemic recently set in for Erik Brannstrom.
After appearing in five games with Switzerland's SCL Tigers, Brannstrom and his teammates had to settle in for a 10-day quarantine beginning Oct. 30 after positive Covid-19 tests within the squad.
"I had to stay in my apartment for 10 days," Brannstrom said. "It was the same for everyone. It wasn't bad. They drove a bike here so I could do some conditioning and work on stuff here so they set us up with everything so it was good."
After being scheduled to return to action on Nov. 10, they were forced into another mini delay as their scheduled opponent, Zurich, had a positive case too. The Tigers finally returned to the ice Nov. 13 allowing Brannstrom to get back to doing what he enjoys most: playing hockey.
"It's really fun," he said. "I mean, it's a good opportunity to play games and I'm really happy to be out there after the injuries. I'm excited to play but it will also be fun to see when the season starts in Ottawa too."
With Langnau, Brannstrom is getting considerable playing time. He leads the Tigers in time on ice at 20:07 a game, also good for 15th in the entire league. He's also playing at a near point-per-game pace, having six points (two goals) in seven contests.
"I think it was a good hockey fit for me here," Brannstrom said. "They weren't taking any loans in Sweden so it was a good chance for me to play in a top league here in Europe.
"Swiss hockey was a good fit for me and Langnau was the best fit for me. I get to play a lot and develop the things I need to work on so I think it was a good choice by me and my agent to play here before the season starts in Ottawa."
Brannstrom is one of a number of Ottawa players playing in Europe right now as they bide their time until Ottawa's training camp starts. And for the 21-year-old defenceman, who had four assists in 31 games last season with the Senators, he's hoping that will aid him when he comes back to Canada.
"Playing games, some guys haven't had played for months, so it's really fun to be out there and feel the game tempo. It's a different thing to play games than practice so I think I'm going to have an advantage there."
As of now, Brannstrom continues to take it day-by-day with Langnau. He describes Switzerland as a beautiful country and says that his current hockey home is a "really nice small city."
But there's no denying the Eksjo native is excited to get back to Ottawa, especially after the team's active offseason.
"It's really exciting," he said. "I think we have a really good future in front of us and they've signed and acquired some really good players so I'm really excited."