At the age of twenty, Valentin Hofer dared to change clubs for the first time, and from next season he will play for HC Ambri-Piotta. Blue Sport spoke to the man from Zug about his new adventure.
Growing up in Steinhausen, a village right next to Zug, Valentin Hofer went to the youth division of the most successful club in recent Swiss ice hockey history and made his way to the first team. Hoover, born in 2002, has been in the National League since the 2020/21 season.
Now a new challenge awaits for a quick start. Hoover decides to leave the safe haven to meet a new challenge. He has signed a two-year contract with Ambri from the new season plus an option for another year. Blue Sport met him before the start of the new phase of his career.
Valentin Hofer, played with EVZ Academy in the Swiss League, with the first team in the National League, with the elite U-20 in the playoffs and with the national under-20 team. How did you experience this season?
It has been an eventful season. She played in the first team from the very beginning, managing to play 23 matches. I did not expect this. My goal was to play around 15 games all season. So it was great to be in the first team for a long time.
I was also nominated for the U-20 World Cup. I broke my big toe in a match against Russia in Canada. The tournament was eventually canceled (due to the coronavirus) and when I got back to Switzerland I was able to get back on the ice and continue the season with EVZ Academy. We qualified for the pre-qualifiers, which was very satisfactory because we have a very small team compared to the competition. We lost there against Zurich, but the season was good.
Then I played in the playoffs with the U20 elite, we won our second straight national title. And then I was able to celebrate the title with the first team. I have experienced a lot in the last year, it has been very inspiring and I have been able to learn a lot. I’m very proud.
What does it look like to become a champion as an extra player?
Of course it is different if you compare it, for example, to the title you won with the U20 team, where you played a key role. But being so young, I accepted my role because I knew I shouldn’t have too many expectations. On the contrary, I am very proud and happy that I am still able to be part of the team.
How was the night Mr.?
it was amazing. I honestly have to say it was a long night. The following days were very complicated (laughs). It was really a great liberation to celebrate the title with the whole city after we lost 3-0 in the series. These are moments I will never forget.
Did you always believe in winning the final over ZSC, even after losing 3-0?
It was hard. The matches were all very close and I thought there was no way for Zurich to win the set 4-0. With a bit of luck, the tide turned in our favor. True, it is unlikely that the series will be filmed. But in the end it happened and it was a well deserved win.
For those who don’t know you well, how would you describe yourself as a player?
I force forward. I’m fast, I like to play hard and with ease. The challenging game does not scare me and I always play with a lot of passion. I would say that these are my main characteristics. I also like to get into the shots and at the same time try to make a difference in speed.
And what do you like to do away from the ice field? What are your hobbies?
I do a lot of sports. I like to keep moving. I am not a player. When we meet up with friends and play video games, I’m the one who watches it (laughs). Like I said, I love sports. I love football, a sport I’ve been playing for many years. In the summer I play volleyball too, I really enjoy walking in nature.
She grew up in Zug, and now she’s changing clubs for the first time. Why did you choose Ambri?
First of all, I think it’s time to try something new. I had teammates who changed clubs when I was young, but I always stayed in Zug. I think it’s an important step to start something new somewhere else.
I had very good conversations with Ambrey. They are looking for a player with my characteristics. When I think about their playing system, this is where I see myself. I am very proud to play with Ambri.
Is this fresh start making you nervous?
I am really looking forward to this new challenge. I grew up playing in the same club, I knew everyone and nothing was new. Now I will find myself in a completely different situation. But I am convinced that things will go well and that I will be relieved quickly.
How do you decide to convert? How did the negotiations go?
I spoke to Zug and quickly realized that they wanted to focus on other young people, like the Allenspach. It was clear to me that I had to look for another way. At the same time, Paolo Duca contacted Reto Kläy (Zuger’s Head of Sports, editor’s note) and expressed interest.
Have you talked to Paulo Duca and Luca Cerrida? What convinced you?
I was in Embry where I was able to meet and talk to them. I visited the new ice rink. They explained to me what kind of player they are looking for and how they imagine my future at Leventina. Luca immediately made a good impression on me. We talked for a long time. You can see how much he lives for Embry and hockey in general.
What do you expect from Embry?
I can’t wait to play in front of those fans who impressed me by playing as an opponent at Embry. I want to show everyone my hockey game and do my best to help the team as much as possible.
When will you move to Ticino for a new adventure?
I’ve been training with the team at Embry every Thursday since the beginning of June. At the end of June I will finally move to Ticino. I am now completing my training as an office worker, after which I can focus 100 percent on hockey.
Do you already know someone in Ambery’s wardrobe?
Yes, I know Rocco Pizzolo, whom I played with in the youth team. We’ve spoken a few times since I signed with Ambrey.
What are your personal goals for the upcoming season?
Anyway, my most important personal goal is to fight for a place in the team. to become a regular. I want to show my new coach that I am ready and he can count on me.
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