Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie

Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie
© Getty Images Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie

Utica ist kein Ort, der Touristen anlockt. Doch die 65’000-Einwohner-Stadt im Bundesstaat New York ist hockey-verrückt und die Heimat der Utica Comets. Das neue Farmteam der New Jersey Devils (davor Vancouver) spielt in der AHL und ist so etwas wie ein Wartesaal für die NHL.

Bei den Comets spielt seit dieser Saison auch ein junger Schweizer. Und kaum da, klopft Akira Schmid an die NHL-Tür. Neunmal stand er im Tor der Comets, achtmal gewann sein Team. Dabei kassierte der 21-Jährige nur 13 Gegentore, wehrte 95 Prozent aller Schüsse ab und feierte zwei Shutouts in Serie. Er hat die besten Statistiken in der AHL – so macht man auf sich aufmerksam.

Dabei hatte es der Emmentaler einst zunächst mit Fussball versucht. Ebenfalls im Tor. «Ich war nicht besonders gut», sagt er. Doch als er als Achtjähriger ein Spiel der SCL Tigers besuchte, faszinierte ihn dieser Sport.

Er suchte auf Youtube Highlights und stiess dabei gleich auf Montreal-Goalie Carey Price, der seither neben Martin Gerber sein Idol ist. Ins Hockey-Tor stellte er sich allerdings nicht sofort. Sein Vater riet ihm, erst als Feldspieler besser Schlittschuhlaufen zu lernen.

Mit 17 zweimal bei den Tigers im Tor

Neun Jahre später kam das Riesen-Talent, das seinen japanischen Vornamen der Karate-Leidenschaft seiner Eltern verdankt, als 17-Jähriger zum NL-Debüt bei Langnau. Und 2018 zogen ihn die Devils an 136. Stelle des NHL-Drafts.

Danach gab es aber herbe Rückschläge für den 1,95-m-Mann. Er heuerte in der kanadischen Juniorenliga WHL bei Lethbridge an, wurde aber nach nur einem Spiel ausgemustert, weil der Klub zu viele Europäer engagiert hatte. «Ich war ein wenig nervös und spielte wirklich schlecht. Zwei Tage später musste ich gehen. Dabei hatte man mir vorher gesagt, dass man wisse, dass ich noch Zeit brauche.»

Schmid kam in US-Junioren-Ligen, erst bei Corpus Christi, dann bei Omaha und Sioux City, unter. Zwischendurch musste er aber zehn Monate pausieren, weil er an den Hüften operiert werden musste. «Das war ein kritischer Moment.» Auch diesen Rückschlag verkraftete er. Und er hat nun hohe Ziele in dieser Saison: «Ich will mich in der AHL etablieren, vielleicht zu meinem ersten NHL-Einsatz kommen und dann gibt es ja noch Olympia.»

Utica stellte einen AHL-Startrekord auf

Wie schon im Camp der Devils macht er derzeit beste Werbung in eigener Sache. Utica stellte mit 13 Siegen einen neuen AHL-Startrekord auf. Der Goalie weiss, dass alles sehr schnell gehen kann. So kam sein Kumpel und Konkurrent, der Deutsch-Kanadier Nico Daws (20), bereits zu zwei Einsätzen bei den Devils.

Schmid, der alleine in einem Apartment wohnt, hat Geduld. Ihm gefällt es in der Kleinstadt. «Es gibt einige sehr gute Restaurants.». Und die Stimmung im Adirondack Bank Center, das stets mit knapp 4000 Fans voll ist, hat es ihm angetan. «Es ist hier noch ein wenig lauter als in Langnau.»

Das Stadion in Utica hat Kult-Charakter, auch weil dort 1977 Szenen des legendären Hockey-Films «Slapshot» mit Paul Newman gedreht wurden. «In der AHL wird zwar nicht so strukturiert und sehr physisch gespielt. Doch so schlimm wie im Film ist es dann doch nicht.»

Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie
Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie
Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie
Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie
Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie
Akira Schmid glänzt in der AHL: Hier kommt der nächste Schweizer NHL-Goalie

Akira Schmid (im Bild vor dem Testspiel gegen die New York Islanders) hofft, auf einen ersten NHL-Einsatz in dieser Saison.

Akira Schmid (im Bild vor dem Testspiel gegen die New York Islanders) hofft, auf einen ersten NHL-Einsatz in dieser Saison.

Das offizielle Foto von Akira Schmid bei den New Jersey Devils.

Das offizielle Foto von Akira Schmid bei den New Jersey Devils.

Schmid war Schweizer Junioren-Nati-Goalie.

Schmid war Schweizer Junioren-Nati-Goalie.

Goalie Schmid bohrt beim Training in Langnau ein Loch ins Eis.

Goalie Schmid bohrt beim Training in Langnau ein Loch ins Eis.

Im Sommer nahm Akira Schmid beim Prospect-Camp der Nati teil.

Im Sommer nahm Akira Schmid beim Prospect-Camp der Nati teil.

Als 17-Jähriger gab Schmid 2018 gegen Kloten (im Bild Adrian Welti) sein NL-Debüt bei den SCL Tigers Goalie Akira Schmid.

Als 17-Jähriger gab Schmid 2018 gegen Kloten (im Bild Adrian Welti) sein NL-Debüt bei den SCL Tigers Goalie Akira Schmid.

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