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Diego Kostner during the face-off against Lugano top scorer Calvin Thürkauf. © HC Lugano / Sam Bassi

Diego Kostner, the derby madness and the national team

His Ambrì-Piotta team lost out to local rivals Lugano on Saturday evening in one of the most important derbies of the last 20 years. Diego Kostner didn't bury his head in the sand and instead looked confidently into the future.

From Lugano

Leo Holzknecht

The Derby Ticinese didn't deliver what it promised. No, it actually exceeded all expectations. It wasn't just the players on the ice who were responsible for this, but also the fans, who created an atmosphere that is unique in the world. “You can get used to it a little bit. But I’ve never played derbies like this before,” said Diego Kostner in an interview after the game SportNews. “Everyone all over Ticino was excited and only talked about ice hockey, about these two games in the play-in tournament. That’s why it’s a shame for our fans that it didn’t work out,” regrets the 31-year-old.

The fact that Ambrì-Piotta lost the game was not least due to the lack of evaluation of opportunities. After a first third in which the home team had their foot on the accelerator and took the lead, the picture changed in the remaining 40 minutes. The Biancoblù created chance after chance - but without using a single one. The shot ratio of 34:21 speaks volumes. “The calmness made the difference. We weren't lucky either when Dario Bürgerl's shot bounced from one post to the other. That would have been 1-1 before the last third,” analyzes Kostner. Ambrì-Piotta played very well in both games and deserved more.

A stand-up man

Although the center didn't make it through the season free of injuries this year (he missed 20 games), he is still indispensable for head coach Luca Cereda. The man from Gardena is seeded both in the power play and when outnumbered. “It's not easy to keep coming back. “But you have to find a way to train even during the injury and do the things that are still possible,” reveals Kostner.

The Lugano fans were over the moon. © HC Lugano / Sam Bassi

Despite the painful defeat, the season is not yet over for Tommaso De Luca & Co. The reason for this is the newly created National League mode. Lugano (7th) and Ambrì-Piotta (8th) were in a better position after the basic round than EHC Biel (9th) and Servette Geneva (10th). Therefore, the Ticino clubs only need to win one play-in series to reach the playoffs. Biel eliminated the champions on Saturday and will now face Ambrì-Piotta. The season balance is 3:1 for the Bernese. “The last two games we lost were very close. We're going to Biel on Monday and have to keep playing like this. What we have to change is how we evaluate opportunities,” says Kostner, setting the direction

Like his teammate De Luca and Lugano striker Marco Zanetti, Kostner is in the national team - and one of the great hopes at the home World Cup in Bolzano. “If it comes to that, I will definitely think about the national team. I would like to play because it is certainly a nice experience. But first my focus is on Ambrì-Piotta. We have to get into the playoffs,” said Kostner combatively. The Leventiners can take the first step towards this on Monday when the first leg takes place in Biel at 20 p.m.


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