Kurashev leads Swiss to 4-0 win
by Andrew Podnieks|29 DEC 2018
Switzerland qualified for a berth in the quarter-finals with a win over Denmark this afternoon.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Philipp Kurashev looks better and better every time he plays. Today he shot and danced his way to three more goals in Switzerland's 4-0 victory over the Danes.

For the Swiss, it’s mission accomplished. Their win ensures they will play in the quarter-finals starting on 2nd January.

"It’s a big win," Kurashev said. “It was one of the most important games for us. I’m very happy. Everybody expected us to win, and we did it. We’re now in the quarter-finals and hope we will continue like that and look to the future."

Luca Hollenstein stopped 21 Danish shots to earn the shutout.
Denmark vs. Switzerland - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship
Switzerland reached the quarter-finals thanks to a 4-0 blanking of Denmark. Philipp Kurashev scores a hat trick.
DEN SUI 30 DEC 2018
For the Danes, they have three priorities. They must beat the Czechs on New Year’s Eve to avoid the Relegation Round. Otherwise they must beat the last-ranked team from the other group (currently Kazakhstan) in that round to avoid relegation. And first and most important, they must score a goal.

Through three games, they have lost 14-0, 4-0, and 4-0. They are 0-13 on the power play.

No team has ever gone through the preliminary round without scoring since the U20 went to the current format in 1996. Five times a team has scored only one, most recently by Germany in 2005.

"They scored on their chances," said Danish forward Phillip Schultz. "We had some chances of our own early but we just couldn't score, and at the end of the game we hit the crossbar on an empty net. If we want to compete with the best teams, we need to score. It's hard to win games if you can't score."

To make matters worse, they played well today but Swiss goalie Luca Hollenstein was rock solid in goal. Up front, Philipp Kurashev scored three goals and now has six points, bringing his tournament total to five and six, respectively, one better than Canada’s Maxime Comtois for the lead in both categories.

"We've booked our ticket to the quarter-final, but we still have a big game tomorrow against Russia," noted defenceman Simon le Coultre. "That's what we have to focus on right now."

"Our goal was the quarter-finals, but it wasn't easy," Swiss coach Christian Wohlwend said. "Out of these first three games, this was our worst. We made a lot of turnovers. We always have trouble beating them. It's not often we have more talent than the other team. Normally we are a little bit behind the top teams, but in the first two games we were very good and got one point and today not so good and got three points. In the end, we're happy."
Interview Christian Wohlwend (29 Dec.)
Swiss head coach Christian Wohlwend after the 4-0 win over Denmark.
SUI 30 DEC 2018
The game might well have had a different outcome had Danish captain Jonas Rondbjerg had a little puck luck in the first period. He had three glorious scoring chances, and each time Hollenstein was just a bit better.

His best chance came short-handed when he had a breakaway but couldn’t beat the goalie with a deke.

As it was, Kurashev opened the scoring with the man advantage at 8:51 thanks to some good luck. A Swiss shot went off a stick in front and the puck landed on Kurashev’s stick. He had an open net and didn’t miss.

He made it 2-0 with only 51.2 seconds left in the period. This time he got into the slot and took a great pass from Nando Eggenberger along the boards, wiring a screen shot past a helpless Mads Soegaard.

Soegaard was at his best early in the second, robbing Kurashev and Yannick Bruschweiler in quick succession to keep the score close. 

But the Swiss increased their lead at 13:29 when Simon le Coultre snuck in off the point, took a pass from Justin Sigrist, and fired a shot between Soegaard’s legs.

How bad was it for Denmark? Late in the period they had a power play, and Jakob Wittendorf had a wide open net. His shot hit a stick in front and wobbled to the goal, hitting the crossbar weakly and staying out.

Kurashev netted his third at 1:38 of the final period, and it seemed inevitable he'd score as soon as he got the puck at centre ice. He weaved over the blue line, cut across the ice, and outwaited Soegaard before sliding the puck into the open net. Truly, a goalscorer's goal.

"He was outstanding for us today," enthused Wohlwend. "He makes a difference for our offence. He takes leadership. Exceptional players make exceptional plays. He was a big reason we won the game."

The enthusiastic crowd of 10,279 spent most of the third period cheering on the Danes, trying to get them a goal, but to no avail. They have one more chance, against the Czechs, to break this crazy curse.
Denmark vs. Switzerland (2019 IIHF WJC)