In the tight race that is the Breclav Group, Canada faced the possibility of heading to a placement game. The Swiss gave them all they could handle and forced overtime, but the Canadians finally prevailed in a shootout to put their team in strong position. In a complicated scenario, Canada adavances unless Sweden wins in overtime, and the Swiss still have a chance as well, albeit slim.
Penalties: 6:4. PP goals: 0:1. SH goals: 0:0.
Referees: Fraňo, Hodek – Lhotský, Svoboda. Attendance: 220.
Both Canada and Switzerland had great opening days to this tournament--the Canadians with a convincing win over the Czechs and the Swiss with an upset of Sweden. But both teams suffered disappointment on Tuesday with narrow defeats, meaning neither could afford another loss on Wednesday. With so much at stake, the teams began cautiously as they faced off in their last group game with a berth in the semifinals at stake.
It wasn´t until the Swiss scored on a power play late in the period when the game seemed to liven up. From the right wing boards, the puck was moved to captain Simon Kindschi at the left circle, and he fired a hard shot just inside the near post to open the scoring.
With the gauntlet thrown down, the Canadians awoke from their slumber and battled back to tie it 1:23 later. Brayden Point had a great shift, driving hard to the net and getting a shot that Swiss goaltender Kevin Fehr stopped, and then circling back and getting it again and buried it this time. The Canadians pressure continued after the goal and almost took the lead, but the teams went to their respective dressing rooms tied.
The Canadians continued their momentum early in the second period--with his team seemingly overwhelmed by the pressure and unable to clear the zone, Fehr had to make big saves off Aaron Ekblad and Clark Bishop in the early going. He couldn´t hold them off forever, though, and in the 28th minute the Canadians finally connected. Rourke Chartier led an impressive-looking rush that finished when Fehr stopped his weak-angle shot, but the rebound came out front to Sam Bennett, who had all the time in the world to pick the low corner.
Just as happened in the first period after Switzerland took the lead and Canada came back quickly, the Swiss answered. With the play in the Canadian zone for most of the next two minutes, they finally managed to dump the puck in the Swiss zone and get a change. However, it was a messy change and when Switzerland cleared the puck right in front of the Canadian bench, the players on the ice couldn´t play it as it would have resulted in a too-many-men penalty. With icing waved off, the puck slid all the way down into the Canadian zone, Kevin Fiala won a race for the puck and made a beautiful deke on Billia, going upstairs on the backhand to tie the game back up.
Once again the Canadians pushed back. This time, though, the Swiss settled down and played strong zone defence, keeping the Canadians to the outside. Finally, with just over two minutes to play in the middle frame, captain Ekblad made a great play to restore the Canadian lead. From the point he faked a slap shot, and with the Swiss forward dropping to block it, he stepped wide with the puck and fired a low shot through traffic that Fehr never saw.
Needing to win the game, the Swiss were aggressive in the third period. Shorthanded with just over 11 minutes left, the always dangerous Fiala got a breakaway that forced Billa to make a big save. As the minutes ticked away, it seemed the Canadians started retreating into a defensive shell and finally the Swiss broke through. Leading a rush into the Canadian zone, Fiala dropped a pass to Kindschi and the Swiss captain scored his second of the game on a hard wrister with 5:32 to go.
Canada went for the win over the last five minutes of regulation time, trying to get the 3 points and the secured semifinal spot. Then in overtime, they out-shot the Swiss 4-0, but in the end, this game was decided in a shootout.
In the shootout, Billa stopped both shots he faced, while Canadians Watson and Point both scored to end the game after two rounds.
With Canada earning 2 points and the Swiss 1, both teams are now forced to watch the final game in the group between the Czech Republic and Sweden to see if they will advance or not.
Dominique Ducharme (assistant coach, Team Canada): We were pretty good down low in the attacking zone. We also had many scoring chances but their goalie did a good job. I believe we deserved to win. We are trying to get better game by game. What we need to do as a team is adapt to that level, facing good national teams that are playing differently sometimes. You know, you just need to adapt quickly, which is hard though.
Luca Careda (assistant coach, Team Switzerland): I think we played well today. We showed we can respond in last five minutes. We´ve had less hours to recover from yesterday but the players didn´t take it as an excuse. We absolutely deserved to get one point out of this game, two maybe. Canada turned out to be better in the shootout. In yesterday´s game the Czechs we´re better team so they derseved to win in the end. But today we deserved the victory more than Canada, in my opinion. We should have calmed down for the shootout a bit. Maybe the boys were a bit nervous. Next time they could be smarter with the puck. It was a good experience for the guys´ careers.