Switzerland 2 - Norway 0
SWISS BLANK NORWAY
Two things were proved in the December 27 meeting between Switzerland and Norway: the Swiss can play a physical game and the Norwegians have a goalie that can stop the puck.
Switzerland outworked, out-hit and out-chanced the overmatched Norwegian squad, winning 2-0 in front of an announced crowd of 11,976 at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum.
Matthias Joggi and Dario Burgler scored for the Swiss, with goalie Reto Berra recording 24 saves for the shutout. Norwegian netminder Ruben Smith stopped 44 of the 46 shots he faced.
Even with the support of the crowd behind them, the Norwegians were unable to get any consistent offensive pressure going. It wasn’t until the Swiss took back-to-back penalties with just over two minutes to play in the first, putting Norway on a two-man advantage, that they were able to create a bunch of chances.
The Swiss, seemingly bent on demonstrating they were much more physical than fans and hockey writers had given them credit for, were caught running out of position at times while trying to create hits. And in the early going, both teams had to rely on their goaltenders to bail them out.
“It was a good performance for both goalies,” said Swiss Head Coach Jakob Kolliker. “Both teams, defensively, played real strong and that was the key for us against this good Norwegian team. [Berra] kept our team in the game. He had a very solid performance. That’s the key for a goalie--he’s got to stop the puck.”
Kolliker cited Switzerland’s annual participation in a separate junior tournament with Slovakia, Germany and Norway as a reason for his squad’s good familiarity with the Norwegians.
“We know that that [the Norwegians] have gotten better and better over the past three years,” said Kolliker.
But Norway just could not match Switzerland’s hard-hitting tempo. The physical difference was particularly evident three minutes into the second period when Swiss forward Stephan Moser crushed Norway defenseman Alexander Bonsaksen into the boards in front of the Norway bench. A few seconds later, Moser went back for second helpings and punished Bonsaksen some more.
At about the 12-minute mark of the second period, while Switzerland was on a power play, Ruben Smith put on a virtuoso display. The Norwegian goalie stopped multiple chances by Raphael Diaz, Bieber and Joggi in close. That sequence led to another Norwegian penalty, putting Switzerland two men up and eventually leading to the opening marker.
Mathias Joggi scored the winner at 13:52 of the second, potting home a loose puck after Matthias Bieber first failed to capitalize on a rebound from an Eric Blum point shot. Joggi simply picked up the puck and roofed it top-shelf while Smith was down.
But Smith did have quite a second period, nonetheless.
“I was trying to have fun while playing and it seemed to be working for some time,” said Smith. “Switzerland are a weaker team [compared to the USA, who beat Norway 11-2], but they are a great team.”
In the third period, the Norwegians continued to show a lack of discipline in their own zone, and ultimately that beat them Tuesday night. Over a span of about four minutes in the middle of the period, Norway took three successive penalties. The last one, taken by assistant captain Kristian Forsberg on a boarding call from referee Rob Matsuoka of Canada, ultimately led to a beautiful Dario Burgler goal.
Burgler, a Swiss forward, was left alone on Smith’s blocker side and converted a Juraj Simek cross-ice pass from the face-off circle with 5:56 remaining in the game. Burgler and Simek had hooked up unsuccessfully several times earlier before connecting for the insurance marker.
Both these teams will face Canada in their next games, Switzerland on December 28 and Norway on December 29.
PREVIEW: SWITZERLAND - NORWAY
By Dhiren Mahiban
Switzerland: Much of the Swiss team that has come to Vancouver was part of the 2005 U18 team. The Swiss finished fourth, with a 2-4 record, in the top division at last year’s IIHF World Junior Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This year’s squad is a fast, skillful team that enters the tournament looking to better on last year’s two victories. Up front Juraj Simek will be one of the main men to watch, and his supporting cast includes Mattias Bieber, Julien Sprunger and Julian Walker, who have all played in the Swiss A league. Can Janick Steinmann inspire his teammates to bring some WHL-style grit? In goal, a pair of teammates from the Swiss B league, Leonardo Genoni and Reto Berra, are expected to share the load throughout the tournament. It’s hard to predict how this team will perform, but a weak outing against Norway would surely spell doom for its hopes.
Norway: After being crushed 11-2 by the Americans on Boxing Day in Vancouver, the Norwegians are looking to bounce back against the Swiss in their second game of the tournament. The Norwegians are back at this tournament for the first time in 15 years and are actively seeking a victory at the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship, after going winless not only last night but also in exhibition play. The last time the Norwegians attended the WJC was in 1991 in Saskatoon. However, they were unable to pull out a win going 0-7. Goaltender Ruben Smith started the game for the Norwegians last night but was pulled at 10:13 of the second period and replaced by Lars Haugen. Smith gave up six goals on 32 shots while Haugen gave up five goals on 24 shots. Defensively, there’s not much to be said except that the Norwegians need to stop taking penalties, tighten up all over the ice, and not allow the Swiss forwards to roam around with impunity. Mathis Olimb, Mats Aasen, and Dennis Sveum showed some promising offensive flair, chipping in two points apiece versus Norway, and that trend must continue. This is a huge game for the Norwegians in terms of trying to avoid relegation.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications