International Ice Hockey Federation

Corvi’s meteoric career

Corvi’s meteoric career

From fourth league to Olympics in seven years

Published 17.02.2018 02:36 GMT+10 | Author Martin Merk
Corvi’s meteoric career
Enzo Corvi during his Olympic debut with the Swiss men’s national team against Canada. Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
When Switzerland competed in Vancouver 2010, Enzo Corvi was a fourth-league player watching the national team on TV. Now he has arrived at the Olympics himself.

“I was watching every game on TV to see how our national team did and now I’m here,” he said about his incredibly steep development.

In 2010 Corvi had his first season in senior hockey. But unlike many of his teammates, he did so in the second amateur league of Switzerland, at the fourth-highest level in the country with EHC Chur. He was playing teams like Dielsdorf-Niederhasli, Wallisellen or at the chilly outdoor rink of St. Moritz, host of the 1928 and 1948 Olympics. In North America people may call it beer-league hockey although Corvi would avoid that word due to the love for his hometown club where he once played junior hockey with Minnesota Wild star Nino Niederreiter.

“Chur is in my heart. I learned to play hockey there but there are worlds between playing in the second amateur league and playing here. It’s a brutal difference. You can’t compare,” the 25-year-old said. “But despite the detour and transferring late I made it to the National League and now even to the Olympics.”

At that time Niederreiter went to HC Davos while Corvi wanted to be on the safe side and finish his education as a heating contractor back home in case he wouldn’t make it to pro hockey. He continued to play two more years with Chur, led it to the third-highest league as one of the best scorers in his second season before he eventually moved to his canton’s top club team, HC Davos, despite no scouts around in his league to watch him play. It was the goalie of his team who recommended his father, HCD head coach Arno Del Curto, to “have a look at his incredible teammate”. Del Curto Sr came down, was pleased and gave Corvi a try-out contract. Since 2012/2013 he has played in the Swiss top league NL.

Born to a father of Italian descent, Corvi grew up in a family that was supporting HC Lugano from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland while his father was on the staff of EHC Chur. Finnish forward Ville Peltonen was then one of his idols. But Lugano’s white-and-black colours have in the meantime been replaced by the blue and yellow of Davos in the Corvi family.

Instead of just having two practices and a game a week in amateur hockey he has become a full-time pro. And after more top-level experience and working out to become more athletic, he has improved steadily to eventually become a national team candidate.

Corvi had never played for a national team at an IIHF event before, neither as junior nor as senior player. But since moving up two leagues in the summer of 2012 he has become one of the strongest Swiss centres in domestic play. With 18 goals and 33 assists he’s the second-best goal scorer (behind Team USA’s Broc Little) and third in points on his team. When he walked during the opening ceremony of the Olympics he realized that a dream comes true.

“It’s a great honour to be here. It’s a dream of every hockey player to once participate. I’m part of a cool team and we have big plans here,” he said.

“The Olympic Village is cool. I’m happy here, we have good food although I prefer my spaghetti with tomato sauce to Asian food. But we have all kinds of food in the village.”

Big plans means winning the first medal since silver at the 2013 Worlds. The last time the Swiss men’s national team won an Olympic medal was on home ice in St. Moritz 1948. But with the NHL players missing in PyeongChang 2018, players and fans see the Swiss chances increased and dare to dream. Starting the tournament with a 5-1 loss to Canada, in contrast, was a rough wake-up call.

“We totally overslept the first period and tried to react in the second but it didn’t work out. They were better in all aspects, had more shots and in particular blocked more shot. They did the dirty work better than us, we have to learn a lesson from them,” Corvi said.

“Every team here wants to win a medal and that is also our goal. It’s an ambitious goal since even without the NHL players it’s a great and top-class tournament. That’s why we have to forget the Canada game and change up two or three gears against Korea. We saw today how they play and I think we have everything under control.”

For Swiss fans it will be a busy morning back home. First the women’s team will take on the Olympic Athletes from Russia in the quarter-finals before the men will play their second preliminary-round game against host Korea.

 

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