October 3, 2023

Jan Alston: From Little Eban to the Ice Hockey World Stage – Switzerland

Jan Alston at the Dolomitencup in Newmarket. © Det

At the age of 21, he came from Canada to the quiet Iban and from there opened up the world of ice hockey in Europe. Jan Alston has made his mark in South Tyrol. At the Dolomitencup in Newmarket, the 54-year-old not only saw old friends again, but also spoke to SportNews.


Thomas Debeliac

When Jan Alston remembers arriving in Iban today, local delicacies immediately spring to mind. “I ate my first tiramisu here. Here I learned what good coffee tastes like and what good wine is,” says the Canadian, smiling. Alston managed to relive these delicious memories last weekend: the 54-year-old is managing director of HC Davos and has visited Newmarket. With his club, where the Dolomitencup was held, the Swiss record holder finished second.

Of course, it’s not just good food and drink that Jan Alston associates with South Tyrol. Rather, it is the game of hockey that is deeply rooted in his memory. It was at IBAN, in the Italian second division, that his exceptional European career took its course. Having launched the Canadian Junior Short and Junior Leagues in his youth, he moved to Obericher Weindorf in the summer of 1990. Coach at the time: Adolf Ansam Muin.

“I just wanted to stay in Europe for a year or two.”
Jan Alston

“I’ve always been curious about how things are in Europe. That’s why I made this decision.” At first I just wanted to stay here for a year or two and then come back to North America. That “year or two” has now turned into over 30 years.

Step out into the great world of ice hockey in Europe

And it soon became clear that a very fast player with pronounced playmaking skills was too good for Italian ice hockey – although it was experiencing a real boom at that time. After stints at Eban, Sterzing (both B series) and finally at Bruneck and Varese (A series and Alpenliga), Alston moved to Switzerland in 1994 to join EHC Biel. Davos, Berlin Capitals, Adler Mannheim, ZSC Lions – these are just a few of the stations added over the next 15 years.

Old friends: Jan Alston (right) with former teammate Gunter Eder.

The intelligent Canadian has lived up to its reputation as a provider of goals and points just about everywhere. This was also reflected in his palms. Alston became World Champion with Canada, Swiss Champion and Champions League winner with ZSC, two-time Spengler Cup winner with Team Canada and DEL Player of the Year with Mannheim.

Great career after career

However, in South Tyrol, the striker was not only remembered for his ice hockey skills. His likable personality and outgoing nature also made him very popular with fans. “Even the rivals praised him,” says Gunter Eder, his former Alston team-mate.

The Canadian also has a successful post-sports career. And in Lausanne, his last stop as a professional, he became sporting director in 2011 and held this position until 2020. Since the summer of 2021, he has been working as general manager at HC Davos, one of the biggest clubs in Europe. “It’s an honor to still be in this job. It’s fun helping to build the squad, planning for what the club’s future looks like. We’ll see where the journey from Davos takes.” In any case, Jan Alston has long since found his way into the hearts of South Tyrol fans. .

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