MANNHEIM – For the first time in 76 years of World Championship hockey, the Swiss have defeated Canada. History was made at SAP Arena in Mannheim with a 4-1 win, thanks in part to the play of goalie Tobias Stephan and the incredible work of the team’s top line of Ivo Rüthemann-Martin Plüss-Thomas Déruns, all of whom had a goal and two assists (nine total points).
There was nothing cheap or controversial about the result. It was a straight-up, well earned, and well deserved victory.
"They played structured. They played fast. And they had a lot of fight to them," said newly-appointed Canadian captain Ray Whitney. "They were impressive. Give them credit. They played a really good game."
Before tonight the teams had played 24 times in the World Championships, Canada winning 22 to go with two ties. The aggregate score was 143-29. Never has Switzerland scored as many as four goals against Canada at the Worlds or Olympics in 90 years of senior international hockey. In 16 of those 24 games Switzerland was held to one goal or was shut out altogether.
The win gives Switzerland top spot in Group B while Canada finishes in second spot. Both teams move on to the Qualifying Round with Latvia which begins on Friday, while Italy moves over to the life-and-death Relegation Round.
Canada was in complete control nearly all of the first 12 minutes of the opening period, but Switzerland got a series of small breaks and capitalized to open the scoring. The troubles all began when Tyler Myers pinched unsuccessfully at the Swiss blueline, creating a 2-on-1. Goalie Chris Mason made a great save on that rush, and Martin Plüss had a second great chance in front and shot wide.
But then Thomas Déruns got the puck at the point and wound up for a big slapshot, only to fan on it. The puck slowly moved to the goal and off to the side Ivo Rüthemann got his stick on the puck before Myers could check him. Rüthemann redirected it past Mason, who was in position only to stop the point shot, giving the Swiss an early 1-0 lead at 11:47.
Plüss put the Swiss up 2-0 two minutes later. He drove to the net without the puck, and Deruns, on the right, drilled a hard pass in front. Plüss got his stick on the puck before Myers could check him.
Just 26 seconds later, though, Canada got on the board. Matt Duchene whirled and twirled in the right faceoff circle and got off a shot that Tobias Stephan stopped. John Tavares was right there to knock home the rebound. The Swiss were playing with confidence and Canada was on the board. Game on.
Just 1:38 into the second period Andreas Ambühl made it 3-1 when he banked the puck in off the pad of Mason from behind the net. It was just the kind of goal which suggested Canada’s Achilles heel was in the blue ice.
"The third goal there, that's a goal I have to have," Mason admitted. "It's tough. We were down 2-1 there, and when that goes in, it's deflating for the team. He just grabbed it and shot it about two feet off the ice, and it hit the side of my pad and went in."
The Swiss didn’t play a flawless period, but it was pretty close to perfect hockey. They fell back around Ambühl when the going got tough and had several good scoring chances on the counter attack. In the last half they incurred three straight minor penalties, but Canada’s power play simply wasn’t clicking, the result of players hastily thrown together only a couple of weeks ago.
Déruns had the SAP Arena buzzing at 5:29 of the final period when he ripped a shot off the near post and in while tearing down the right wing to give the Swiss a commanding 4-1 lead.
"They played the same way at the Olympics," Corey Perry noted. "They play that skating game, and they frustrated us by clogging up the neutral zone. They're a good team and you can't underestimate them."
NOTES: Canada played with 19 skaters because of the tournament-ending injury to Ryan Smyth and was down to 18 for the third period after Steve Stamkos injured his shoulder.