United States 2 - Switzerland 2
ENERGETIC SWISS SURPRISE USA EN ROUTE TO TIE
By John Kurucz | Box Score
Despite being outshot and outmatched, Team Switzerland gave the Americans all they could handle in an exciting, come-from-behind 2-2 tie at the Pacific Coliseum December 30.
After three games, Team USA sports a record of two wins and one tie, while the Swiss currently have three points in Group A play.
Both teams will play their final Round Robin games December 31, with the Swiss taking on Finland while Team USA suits up against Canada.
“We have a great deal of respect for what they’ve done, and we have a great deal of respect for who they are, but we have to be ready when the puck drops tomorrow,” Kyle said of the prospect of facing Canada.
“Canada’s always been the dominant team ever since the early 90’s,” said the USA’s Robbie Schremp. “I think we’re starting to put ourselves on the map in the tournament. I think this should be a good tilt.”
The Canadians can now claim top spot in Group A simply by tying the USA.
In this game, Mathias Joggi paced the Swiss, notching the game-tying goal with 5:52 left and picking up an assist on his team’s first goal by Eric Blum at 7:53 of the third period. Both goals came on the power play.
“It was a great point for us, coming back for a 2-2 tie,” said Swiss Head Coach Jakob Kolliker. “For our team it’s pretty good.”
Geoff Paukovich and Bobby Ryan had the American goals.
“I liked the standard of officiating tonight,” Kyle said. “It was pretty good for us until the third, when we took some stupid penalties. I think that certainly affected us. We scored a couple of goals early, but then we didn’t get the job done the rest of the way out.”
Team USA netminder Cory Schneider stopped 22 of 24 shots, while Reto Berra made 32 saves on 34 shots in the Swiss nets.
“He played well,” said Erik John of Berra’s performance. “He’s played well against Canada too. He’s kept them in there and tonight he played a good game.”
After posting a tournament-high 17 goals in its first two games, the USA looked almost awe-struck in the early moments of the first period, as Team Switzerland came out playing a fast-paced, high-energy brand of hockey.
The Swiss registered two excellent scoring chances in the game’s opening minutes and threw solid bodychecks at the Americans.
From there, however, the Americans seemed to find their legs, and opened up the scoring at 6:16 by capitalizing on a defensive miscue caused by Team Switzerland’s boisterous opening play. With both Swiss defencemen looking for a big hit in the corner, Geoff Paukovich was left alone in front of the net, and the 19-year-old forward tapped in a centering pass from Nathan Davis to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
After conceding the game’s first goal, Team Switzerland took two consecutive penalties.
A dazzling burst of speed courtesy of Nate Gerbe nearly put the Americans up by two at the 13:23 mark. The Boston College product drove wide to the right side of the Swiss defence before cutting in on Berra, and just missed lifting a backhand over the Swiss keeper’s shoulder.
The USA made it 2-0 at 16:59, as Bobby Ryan converted the rebound of a Robbie Schremp slapshot from just over the blueline. Though Berra controlled the initial long shot, the rebound trickled down his blocker side padding, allowing for a simple tap-in for the future Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward.
The second period saw the Swiss start off with the man advantage, as USA defenceman Jack Johnson was called for elbowing at the conclusion of the first frame.
Though the second period of play failed to produce a goal, the two teams exchanged a number of quality scoring chances.
At the 10-minute mark, the Swiss forward line of Julien Sprunger, Mathias Bieber and Julian Walker pressed the American defence corps, with Sprunger ringing a shot off the left post.
Seconds later, Team USA wunderkind Phil Kessel checked in with his first highlight-reel moment, as the American forward rang a shot off the post after a faceoff.
Less than two minutes later, Team USA’s Nathan Davis was sent in on a clear breakaway, but his backhand-forehand deke was foiled by the outstretched right pad of Berra.
Sprunger’s chance at 19:29 was arguably Switzerland’s best chance of the period, but his shot from just inside the hashmarks was contained by Schneider.
The Swiss started the third period with a distinct sense of urgency, and they induced the USA to run into penalty problems.
The Swiss finally got on the board at 7:53 as a result of a Erik Johnson tripping penalty.
In an awkward-looking play, defenceman Eric Blum’s shot from behind the goal line bounced off Schneider’s back and into the net.
“It surprised me a little bit,” said Schneider. “I didn’t see the guy right there on the doorstep, so it’s my fault for not being on the post.”
Team USA’s penalty problems continued from there, and the Americans found themselves two men short just after the 12-minute mark, with Jack Johnson and Blake Wheeler heading to the box.
The Swiss tied the affair at 14:08, as forward Mathias Jogge tapped in a lovely cross-crease pass from Matthias Bieber.
Although Berra was called for delay of game after knocking his net off the moorings with 3:04 remaining, the Swiss weathered the USA storm and hung on for the draw.
“It’s probably more of a victory for [the Swiss],” said Schneider. “We’re focused on tomorrow’s game, so you can’t dwell on that.”
PREVIEW: USA - SWISS
By Jenny Wiedeke
USA: There’s nothing worse than being dubbed the pre-tournament favourites. In the USA’s case, that means you’re expected to roll through the Round Robin unscathed and undefeated, without breaking a sweat. But as all favourites have learned, such expectations are unrealistic. Just look at the Americans. They beat Norway 11-2, and the consensus was, “That was expected.” They have their struggles against the Finns and the refrain was, “Maybe they can’t handle the pressure.” You just can’t win (in a manner of speaking) as the favourites. So it’s no surprise that today’s game against the Swiss is an especially dangerous one for the fully loaded Americans. First, Switzerland showed against the Canadians that it knows how to play with emotion and challenge a top team. Next, you have the Canadian fans, who will no doubt find a new appreciation for cheese and chocolate for at least three periods today. Finally, and most importantly, you have concerns about a shaky performance against Finland plaguing you. Goalie Jeff Frazee was uncharacteristically frazzled against the Finns, and the so-called impenetrable American defence was definitely compromised during the game. The saving grace of Team USA was the offence, which has scored 17 goals in two games, including nine tallies on 24 power play chances. The line of Chris Bourque, Phil Kessel, and Kevin Porter is the most dangerous in the tournament with 18 points in two games, and that’s saying a lot, considering the dynamic Robbie Schremp has five points with the second line. If the Americans are as good as everyone thinks, then the game against the Swiss should be merely academic. But, as all pre-tournament favourites learn, there are no easy games at the IIHF World Junior Championship--just easy targets.
Switzerland: Welcome to the World Junior Championship, Switzerland. The Swiss may have literally arrived in Vancouver 10 days ago, but it was only on Tuesday night that the team arrived at the championship. If ever there was such a thing as a victorious loss, Switzerland’s 4-3 loss to the Canadians was it. Sure they didn’t get two points, but they gained confidence and respect, which will ultimately take this team much further. This year, Team Switzerland is comprised of two relatively weak groups of players that struggled through the U18 World Championship in previous seasons. But as Switzerland learned, you can make up for a lack of talent with an infusion of emotion and physical play--and a hot goaltender. Luckily for the Swiss, they have both, at least for now. The difference between a win and a loss for Switzerland versus the Americans will be the goaltender’s performance in net and the ability to find the fire that they showed against the Canadians. The million-dollar question that is echoing off the Alps today is, “Which goaltender will be the pillar of the team?” Don’t be surprised if the Swiss opt to rest Reto Berra and put in Leonardo Genoni. And don’t be surprised if Genoni is every bit as good as Berra. The two are teammates with the Zurich Lions in the Swiss B League, and it is Genoni who has played more games this season for the team. But ultimately, it’ll come down to whether these players can recapture the magic they discovered against Canada.
For more information:
André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications