UFA – The Swiss started their 2013 U20 with a solid 7-2 victory over Latvia in early evening action at the Sports Palace.
The scoring was spread out among six players while Tanner Richard had three assists. Mike Künzle had two goals.
The win makes it 4-0-0 for the Swiss in all-time meetings between the two U20 nations.
"I thought we played well the last 55 minutes, and I think that's why we won," said Christoph Berstchy, one of the Swiss goalscorers.
"The first game is always important because you always want to start in a good way," said coach Sean Simpson. "We didn't have such a great start, but we kept our composure and stuck to our game plan. I really liked the way the team played today."
Latvia got on the board first with a power-play goal just 2:45 into the game. Arturs Kuzmenkovs fed Nikolajs Jelisejevs a perfect pass for a one-timer with the extra man, but the Swiss played a patient game and waited for their chances.
They tied the game at 14:14 during a 4-on-4 situation. Christoph Bertschy drove down the left wing and took a shot that was stopped by Elvis Merzlikins, but Bertschy got to his own rebound and scooped the puck in.
Late in the period the Swiss went ahead on a nice passing play. Richard spotted Künzle at the top of the crease and Künzle’s quick shot beat Merzlikins at 18:27. The goal was scored at even strength but came just as Edgars Siksna came out of the penalty box and was not yet back in the play.
When Lukas Balmelli made it 3-1 for Switzerland early in the second, it seemed that might be enough, but Latvia proved more resilient than the score might have suggested. Arturs Sevcenko drew the Latvians to within one again when he scored on a partial breakaway, his quick shot slipping under the arm of Luca Boltshauser.
Midway through the period the Swiss changed the fate of the game when it scored a short-handed goal. Richard made a great deke to come out of the corner with the puck, and he spotted Sven Andrighetto, who roofed a quick backhand over the glove of Merzlinkins to make it 4-2 at a time when the Latvians had a great chance to tie the game.
Sandro Zangger then scored a beauty to put the game away. He bolted down the middle and cut quickly to the outside, leaving defenceman Edmunds Augstkalns sprawled on the ice. Zangger then made a nifty move and tucked the puck in to make it 5-2.
Ivars Punnenovs relieved Merzlikins to start the third period. He surrendered another power-play goal froma Richard to Künzle combination in front. Alessio Bertaggia closed out the scoring with a late goal on a clean breakaway.