International Ice Hockey Federation

Back despite brain surgery

Back despite brain surgery

Lemm returns to national team after three years

Published 21.11.2014 09:52 GMT+1 | Author Martin Merk
Back despite brain surgery
Romano Lemm played for the Swiss national team for the first time since the 2011 IIHF World Championship after having to take a break due to a tumour. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images
Three years ago bad news shocked the Swiss hockey world when national team forward Romano Lemm was diagnosed with a cranial nerve tumour that required surgery.

But after some tough times, Lemm has made his way back to the national team, completing his comeback at the recent Deutschland Cup.

“I feel quite good. Compared to two years ago it’s a huge step. I have almost no pain anymore and got used to the situation,” Lemm said about his health condition. “I think I’m a normal hockey player.”

The picture wasn’t as promising some years ago. Due to tinnitus syndromes he visited a doctor, and after scanning his brain the news wasn’t good. Lemm had a cranial nerve tumour. A non-cancerous tumour, but one that required surgery. After the initial shock a torturous process started for Lemm.

On one side his inner ear was damaged, and for a while Lemm was suffering from imbalance, head and neck pain.

“My body has now got used to the new situation. The left side takes over functions from the right side. I’m still lacking two or three per cent but for a year I haven’t had the feeling anymore that I live with a handicap,” Lemm said, although adding that he still experiences some ringing in his ear.

Lemm was a star player in Switzerland before he was forced to leave the ice. He played in seven consecutive IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships between 2005 and 2011 and in the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The now-30-year-old had to wait 12 months before staging his comeback in the Swiss league with the Kloten Flyers, the club that played in the Champions Hockey League this year and with which he spent his entire career aside from two years with Lugano.

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Another two years later, and three-and-a-half years after having played his last game in red-and-white at the 2011 IIHF World Championship, Lemm also staged his comeback with the national team.

New head coach Glen Hanlon called a roster for the international break with the Deutschland Cup in Munich in which he wanted to test many players who haven’t made the selection recently. Lemm was one of the older ones and was even named captain by Hanlon.

“I’m really glad that I was called to the national team and that I was able to be back. I had hard times and didn’t know how well I’d be able to play hockey. It was an honour to be the captain of this young team,” Lemm said.

“Two years ago I didn’t think I would be able to play at a World Championship again but it was my goal to one day be back with the national team.”

With many more players to be tested, only a handful of the Swiss players at the Deutschland Cup will make the roster when Switzerland will travel to Prague for the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship next May.

Lemm wanted to show that he can make it and was one of the better players. He harmonized well with Lino Martschini, who due to his size and agility was sometimes referred to as the Swiss answer to Martin St-Louis. Now he hopes that he’ll get another chance in spring to become one of the Swiss centres on the World Championship roster.

The young Swiss – the average age was 24 years compared to 26 at the last Worlds and 28 at the Sochi Olympics – didn’t have a good start in the neighbouring clash against Germany but finished the Deutschland Cup in second place after wins against Canada and Slovakia.

“International hockey is more intense than in the National League A. You need one or two periods to be into it,” Lemm said about the start and the progress throughout the event.

“For many players it was their first games but considering that we had so many new players we didn’t do a bad job. We got used to the system and played better game by game. It needs some time.”

Hanlon plans to test 50 players, which means that he’ll ice an entirely new squad when Switzerland will host Norway, Slovakia and Belarus at the Arosa Challenge on 19th and 20th December during the next international break.

At the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Switzerland will play in Group A in Prague with Sweden, Canada, the Czech Republic, Latvia, France, Germany and Austria and hope to reach the quarter-finals after failing to reach a top-8 position both at the last Worlds in Minsk and in the Olympics.


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