Higgins Shorthanded efforts propel U.S.A. to victory
Chris Higgins’s two second-period short-handed goals propelled the United States to a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in Group A action in Sydney on Saturday. The win improves the U.S. team’s record to 1-1. Switzerland drops to 1-1 with the loss.
With Switzerland leading 1-0 after the first, and the U.S. down a man, Higgins scored on a snapshot from the slot after some good hustle by linemate Dwight Helminen. Helminen won a foot race with a Swiss defender, then fed Higgins in the slot, who tied the game with a five-hole goal.
Just 13 minutes later, Helminen and Higgins broke in on a 2-on-1 while shorthanded again. Helminen saucer passed the puck over the Swiss defender to Higgins, who deked to his backhand to beat Daniel Manzato.
"Everyone was working hard on the penalty kill," said Higgins, the U.S. player of the game. "We’ve preached that a lot since becoming a team. I give a lot of credit to Dwight (Helminen). He worked his tail off out there and got me the puck a couple times. I was lucky enough to score."
U.S. Head Coach Lou Vairo was pleased with his star player’s performance. "He’s a horse, and we need our horses to run if we want to win the race. He’s a top draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, a top player for Yale, and one of our best players. He produced which is what he’s supposed to do."
Barry Tallackson scored the other U.S. goal in the third period.
Patrik Bartschi scored his second goal of the tournamnet to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead in the first period. Bartschi took a beautiful feed from linemate Andrei Ambuhl and deposited it in the net behind goaltender James Howard.
Howard stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced while Swiss counterpart Manzato turned aside 18 shots and earned his team’s player of the game honours.
Higgins still wants to see more from his team: "Five on five we have lots of room for improvement. We’ve got to get our feet moving and take advantage of our speed."
The U.S. returns to action on Monday against Belarus. The Swiss also play on Monday against Slovakia. Both games are in Sydney.
Switzerland to do battle with USA
The United States will look to rebound from an opening-day loss to Team Russia when they lock horns with Switzerland on Saturday afternoon in Sydney, Nova Scotia, in World Junior Hockey tournament action.
The U.S. team was soundly beaten by the Russians on Thursday night at Centre 200. The 5-1 drubbing was compounded by the loss of one of their key defencemen, as Tim Gleason, a first-round draft choice of the Ottawa Senators in 2001 broke his foot blocking a shot against Russia and will miss the remainder of the tournament.
Team USA head coach Lou Vairo hopes to get more offense from some of his highly- touted players against the Swiss, which opened with a 4-2 win over Belarus. He’ll look to get more offense from players such as Patrick O’Sullivan and Chris Higgins among others. “I think we have to play smarter--myself included,“ O’Sullivan admitted. He scored once against Russia and plays junior for the OHL’s Mississauga Ice Dogs.
Swizerland, meanwhile, will look to improve to 2-0 with a victory over the Americans. Head Coach Jakob Kollinger expects a tough test, though. “We have to prepare well. We have a day off (Friday) and we watched them play (against Russia). We know they have a strong team. They are a good physical team, so we look forward to the challenge.”
Beat Forster, the 2002 Phoenix Coyotes draft pick who scored the winning goal and added an assist in Switzerland’s win over Belarus, is also ready to play the Americans. “They are a physical team and have lots of small rink experience, but we like the small rink too. It’s better for us cause we also play very hard and like to be physical too,” said the affable Forster.
Both teams were penalized numerous times in their opening games of the tournament, and improved discipline will be something they will both be striving for. The U.S. was victimized once while shorthanded against Russia. “Sometimes you get frustrated, and you might take a penalty or something, but the coaching staff is trying to get it across to us that only some penalties are okay, and to play smart,” O’Sullivan stated.
Both teams had Friday off, so they should be anxious to get back on the ice on Saturday.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications