Canadians eliminate Swiss

Canada-Czech Republic, USA-Sweden semi-finals set

24.04.2014
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Canada will have the chance to earn a third straight U18 medal. Photo: Jana Chytilova / HHOF-IIHF Images

IMATRA – Defending U18 World Champions Canada are still alive after edging Switzerland 3-2 in the last quarter-final game of the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship.

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Down 2-1 in the third period, the Swiss looked to be cooked with just over four minutes to go, but on a power play the team’s top scorer Kevin Fiala got the puck wide open on the side fo the net and fired it home to tie the game up.

But with just thirty seconds remaining on the clock, Travis Konecny put the dagger into the hearts of the Swiss with his third goal of the tournament.

"I just kind of read the play, I saw (Travis Sanheim) make a great play to beat the guy and make a great pass, it was a great play by him to get it over to me," said Konecny.

The key for the Canadians going into the game was to shut down the Swiss scoring duo of Fiala and Denis Malgin, who together combined for 14 points in four games. Neither player was able to register a point, that is until Fiala’s tying goal late in the third made the boys in red sweat a bit.

"I feel they battled hard, they went on the ice to win the game," said Swiss coach Manuele Celio. "At this level, one little mistake on the backcheck in the second goal and a bad line change on the third and that's the game, but I'm proud of how the guys fought today."

Switzerland last defeated Canada in 2010, and was looking to post another upset in the 2014 tournament after beating the United States in its opening game.

In the first period Switzerland’s Dominik Diem took advantage of a screened Mason Mcdonald, firing a shot from the right circle into the far side of the net to put the Swiss up 1-0 over the favoured Canadians.

Canada answered back with two and a half minutes to go in the frame, the goal scored by Jake Virtanen on the power play, assisted by Travis Sanheim.

Swiss goaltender Gauthier Descloux did well in keeping puck out of the net early in second despite pressure from the Canadians. But his teammates were unable to return the favour, and Canada went up by a goal midway through the second when the puck came to John Quenneville sitting in front of the net after a failed wraparound attempt by Jayce Hawryluk. 

So after surviving the Swiss scare Canada advances, but both the players and the coach feel that the team has yet to play a complete game.

"They work hard for 60 minutes and play the trap well which is tough to go against," said defenceman Haydn Fleury. "I think tonight was a little bit of a setback, I think we'll get back to work tomorrow and hit our stride in the semis."

"Their game has really evolved," said Canada head coach Kevin Dineen of the Swiss. "They are extremely well-coached and they have a really good development program, for a small country they are producing some really good hockey players. We were outplayed for a lot of that game and I have to give the Swiss credit, we are very fortunate to be able to move on."

Canada now heads to the semi-finals for the fourth straight year and will face the Czech Republic.

"We just caught their overtime period, and they'll be carrying over a lot of the momentum from their game agaisnt Russia," said Fleury. "We'll need to be ready for that."

USA and Sweden will play in the other semi, both games are scheduled for Saturday in Lappeenranta. 

ADAM STEISS
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