When Dominique Heinrich plays in the home game against HCB Südtirol Alperia in the Salzburg Eisarena tonight (4:30 p.m.), it will not only be another exciting duel in the win2day ICE Hockey League, but also a very special anniversary. The striker at the time – he was only converted to defender in Salzburg under the tutelage of Pierre Pagé – who moved to Salzburg from EHC Team Vienna in November 2007 and has been playing in the Salzburg professional team since 2008, is playing his 768th game with the Red Bulls today Professional game in the Austrian-international top league, drawing level with the previous record holder Matthias Trattnig, who ended his career in Salzburg in 2019.
This is a real milestone in Dominique Heinrich’s professional career and at the same time a strong commitment to the Red Bulls: apart from half a season with Örebro HK in the SHL in the 2916/17 season, the defender is his man in Salzburg and is currently contesting his 15th professional season with the Red Bulls. To date, “Henker” has scored 395 points (120 goals, 275 assists). The lively defender scored his first Bundesliga goal on September 21, 2008 in an away game against Hydro Fehérvár AV19.
Dominique, what does this number mean to you?
Of course I’m very proud of the whole time in Salzburg. I’ve spent most of my professional career here, or I’m still in the middle of it. It’s still a lot of fun and hopefully I’ll have a few more years.
If you look back at the beginnings, what was it like arriving here back then?
I immediately felt at ease. I knew from a young age that I wanted to become a professional ice hockey player and everything was much more professional in Salzburg than it was at my founding club in Vienna. The chance to win something in Salzburg was also an important aspect for me. I can also play a few players from the national teams and they made it very easy for me to integrate into the team straight away.
Just one season later, in 2008/09, you were called up to the Red Bulls’ professional team.
It was really wild at the beginning, suddenly with players like Dieter Kalt, Matthias Trattnig, Thomas Koch, Daniel Welser and Manuel Latusa, whom I saw in Vienna with bars and of whom I was a huge fan, in the locker room stand. At first you’re quiet and try to fit in somehow, to be good in training and not to do anything that makes you look stupid. They were all great role models, some of whom were hard on us boys, but that’s how it should be. We learned from them the winning mentality and everything that goes with it. We had a lot of fun back then and it still works that way to this day.
Do you remember your first professional goal?
Yes, I can do that. I even saved the highlight video from back then somewhere. It was in Hungary against Székesfehérvár from a rebound and of course that was a great experience for me.
Is there a player who influenced you the most?
Of course there are several. But most likely Matthias, how he approached things every day, without a break, until the end. In addition to his will to win, he knew exactly what it took to win. Checked that there was cohesion in the team. Sometimes I still miss him in the dressing room, it was just great that I was able to learn so much from him. Things that I, as a leader, am now trying to implement and thereby help the team.
Your first coach in the first team was Pierre Pagé, who had a great influence on the Red Bulls and led them to success. Under he made you from a striker to a defender. How did that go down with you?
It was weird at first, I have to admit. Pierre had often put me in the back in training and then at some point he put me on defense. I was kind of thrown in at the deep end, but I didn’t think much of it. I just wanted to play and get Ice Age. But then I started having more and more fun in the new position and today it’s no longer the case that the defenders have to be real giants.
Which coach had the biggest influence on you?
In principle, Pierre Pagé is probably the coach who influenced me the most. Not only because of the position change, but also how he thinks and lives ice hockey. Along with his established co, Reijo Ruotsalainen, who was also a small defender, which wasn’t the norm at the time, but has nevertheless made it through to the NHL. Then Don Jackson with Matt [McIlvane] as an assistant coach, who is now our head coach. Matt is humanely okay and definitely the best coach I’ve had.
Which championship title was the most beautiful?
That’s hard to answer. Each title has its own story. We won my first championship title in the sixth game in Linz in overtime, a year later we won in Klagenfurt in the seventh game. A playoff series couldn’t be more exciting. Winning in Vienna in 2015, where I learned to play ice hockey, was something special. When we won our last title this year, my two children were born and could celebrate with me. My son already plays ice hockey and that makes you particularly proud.
Back to the number 768 – is this the most important milestone for you so far?
I’m really proud to have been able to play for a club for so long. But at the end of the day we play to win, so of course I’m very proud of the five championship titles. I hope that there will be a few more and that I can play here for a long time.
www.redbulls.com, image: Red Bull Salbzurg/GEPA Images/Mathias Mandl