Switzerland 5 - Latvia 2
SWITZERLAND DEFEATS LATVIA IN RELEGATION ROUND TANGLE
By Daniel Wilson | Boxscore
Switzerland defeated a gutsy Latvian squad 5-2 at a moderately filled Pacific Coliseum on January 2, moving one step closer to securing the right to return for next year’s IIHF World Junior Championship.
Leading the way for the Swiss were Julian Walker and Juraj Simek, each with a goal and an assist, and Matthias Bieber, who had two helpers. Goalie Reto Berra made 23 saves in the victory.
“We had to win this game,” said Walker. “We are a team. It doesn’t matter who shoots the goals. We are a team and that’s the important thing.”
Scoring for Latvia were Andis Abolins and Martins Karsums. Goalie Ugis Avotins matched Berra’s 23 saves.
The first period featured many turnovers, a couple of big saves by each goalie, very few penalties, and a lot of back-and-forth action. The only goal of the period was scored at 5:34 by Switzerland’s Simek, as he put a pass on net from the top of the right circle and it deflected through a screen and past Avotins.
The second period started much the same, with the teams taking turns on offence. Some physical play finally came into the game as both teams tried to get the edge.
At 10:01, Switzerland’s Mathias Joggi scored on a great tic-tac-toe passing play, from Julien Sprunger and Eric Blum, on the power play, to make the score 2-0. Switzerland added another goal at 12:14, during 4-on-4 play, when Julian Walker broke into the Latvian zone and ripped a wrist shot top corner past Avotins.
Latvia finally scored at 13:31, when Abolins broke in off the right wing and put the puck through Berra’s five-hole, cutting the deficit to 3-1. Latvia, sparked by the goal, controlled the rest of the second period, recording 12 shots and causing the Swiss to take a couple of obstruction penalties.
The Swiss stopped Latvia’s momentum when Alessandro Chiesa chipped the puck past Avotins to give his team a 4-1 lead at 1:23 of the third period.
Latvia replied at the 5:56 mark, as Karsums lifted the puck into the net with one hand while sliding feet first into the crease.
Switzerland iced the game at 5-2 at 17:38 when Dario Burgler scored on a cross-ice feed from Simek on the power play.
The Players of the Game were Joggi for Switzerland and Renars Demiters for Latvia.
Both teams next play Wednesday at the Pacific Coliseum, with Latvia taking on Norway (12:00) and the Swiss facing Slovakia (16:00).
PREVIEW: SWISS - LATVIA
By Andrea Lee
Switzerland: After putting in a gutsy effort and tying the heavily favoured Americans 2-2 on Friday, the Swiss tried to keep that momentum going. Again, they put in a good effort to stay out of the Relegation Round, but a 4-1 loss to Finland on New Year’s Eve ended those hopes. Reto Berra has been the number one goalie so far, but if backup Leonardo Genoni is to see any action in this tournament, it’ll be against the Latvian underdogs. The entire squad will have to improve their defensive play, as no Swiss player has a plus rating. The Swiss should win this game against a Latvian side that has scored eight goals and allowed 25 in this tournament, but they can’t afford to take anything for granted. Note that in the Relegation Round, teams carry over points they acquired versus other Relegation Round teams, so Switzerland comes in with two points (from beating Norway), while Latvia has zero.
Latvia: The Latvians finished fifth in Group B, which is right where most people expected them to be. However, they were not manhandled in every single game, only losing 3-1 to Russia and 7-4 to Slovakia. The Latvians have had two days off after losing 10-2 to Sweden on Friday, so they should be well-rested and ready to go. Look for Ugis Avotins to suit up between the pipes, as he has been their starting goalie for every game in the Round Robin. In fact, Avotins is the main reason why Latvia has kept things respectable for the most part.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications