We're having a rematch. After fighting to a 4-1 win over the Swiss, Canada moves on to the semi-finals where they will face the United States for the chance to play in the gold medal round. As they did with the Americans, Team Switzerland would not go quietly into the night...or afternoon, as the case may be. (FYI, in the other bracket, the Russians upset heavily favored Finland to make it to the semi-finals themselves. They face the Swedes, and, at the time of writing this, the game is tied at 2.)
69 seconds into the game, Swiss forward Into Pestoni got his team on the board with a soft goal that Mark Visentin just couldn't handle. Pestoni moved in from behind the net and snuck the puck between the goaltender's pads and the post with a backhanded goal that never should have seen twine. However, less than two minutes later and under pressure, Reto Shappi took Switzerland's first penalty for delay of game after shooting the puck out over the glass in his own zone. A minute after that, they took another penalty and gave the Canadians a short 5 on 3. As he was all night, Swiss goaltender Benjamin Conz withstood the onslaught.
Canada got another power play chance on a slashing call to the Swiss. After a fanned clearing attempt, Ryan Johansen scored from a pass across the circles, tying the game at one. Canada was heavily outshooting the Swiss team, but Conz kept turning them away. He was very calm, making tough saves look easy. It's hard to believe this guy has been passed over in two consecutive drafts. I'm thinking he won't be this year. At the end of the period, the score was stilled tied.
Although not getting a lot of offensive chances, the Swiss were playing strong defense by backchecking and forcing turnovers. Ryan MacGregor of Switzerland had a huge hit center ice and stopped an odd man rush for the Canadians. Shortly after that, the Swiss got into the offensive zone and created a frenzy in front of Visentin as he couldn't control the puck. Switzerland had multiple opportunities but couldn't convert. At the other end of the ice, they were doing a great job of clearing rebounds, but a misplay by Nicholas Steiner forced Conz to come up with probably the save of the night. Steiner meant to send the puck behind the net, but he put it right in its side where a Canadian player got his stick on it and sent a pass across the crease to a waiting teammate who shot into what seemed like an open net. Conz was able to get back in time for the save.
On a weird play, Canada took a slashing penalty as Carter Ashton broke the stick of a Swiss player. However, Visentin thought the penalty was on Switzerland and started skating to the bench, leaving his net wide open. Unfortunately for the Swiss, the Canadians were able to touch up before any damage was done.
In another show of talent, Conz went to play the puck in the corner, but Curtis Hamilton was barreling down on him. Conz deked around the Canadian to put the puck safely behind the net and to his teammate. The Swiss were not able to set up for the power play, being stood up at either center ice or the blue line. In the last 30 seconds, they were able to get some chances going, but Visentin stopped all the shots.
At the end the period, Casey Cizikas showed incredible patience as he made good on an odd man rush. He went high short side on Conz after waiting for the defenseman to commit to going to the ice to block the shot and as Conz cheated over for the pass. End of second: Canada was up 2 to 1.
By the start of the third, Canada had double the shots on net versus the Swiss. At the six minute mark, they forced a turnover in the Swiss zone, cycled down low and LeBlanc scored from the face off dot. Canada went up 3-1. At this point, the Swiss really couldn't get any offensive pressure going due to Canada's strong defensive presence. Swiss forward Benjamin Antonietti took a slashing penalty which allowed Canada to set up shop for two full minutes in their zone.
The refs called a very bad penalty on Tristan Sherwey as he accidentally smacked his head against that of a Canadian player when finishing his check. The penalty kill was much better this time and they did a good job of clearing the puck. Unfortunately, it didn't translate to offense, and Canada scored an empty netter with 2 minutes left to go. 4 to 1 Canada. After they scored, Nino Neidereitter shot the puck the length of the ice in frustration, resulting in an unsportsmanlike penalty. On the power play, Erik Gudbranson took a hooking penalty, ending the game with 4-on-4 hockey. No one scored during that time, and Canada prevailed 4 to 1.
- Tyson Barrie took a scary high stick from his own goaltender that went up and under his visor, catching him near his eyes. He went down for a bit, but he came back for his next shift without appearing to have any ill effects.
- Quote of the night by Pierre McGuire: "Ellis is getting strong on the foreplay."
Players of the Game:
Switzerland: Inti Pestoni (1 goal)
Canada: Ryan Johansen (1 goal)
Next Up: Semi-finals vs. USA, tonight (January 3rd) at 5:30 pm MT/7:30 pm ET