Swiss stay perfect
by Andrew Podnieks|17 MAY 2022
Switzerland's Andres Ambuhl dives for the puck while battling with Kazakhstan's Yegor Shalapov and goalkeeper Andrei Shutov.
photo: Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Switzerland rolled along with a solid effort tonight at the Jaahalli to defeat Kazakhstan, 3-2. But for the goaltending of Andrei Shutov the Swiss might well have hit double digits. Shots favoured Switzerland 43-14, and many of those 43 were of the difficult variety.

"He played unreal," said Sweden-born Kazakh defender Viktor Svedberg. "He really kept us in the game. Without him, it probably would have been a different game. It's huge that he steps up and plays that way."

Kazakhstan won the last meeting between the teams, back in 2016, thanks to a goal from Nigel Dawes in a shootout, but they weren’t so fortunate this time. They were outplayed in all areas of the ice by a faster and more determined Swiss team.

The win moves the Swiss into a tie with Canada for top spot in Group A. Both teams have perfect 3-0 records in regulation, good enough for 9 points. The Kazakhs remain winless in three games and, along with Italy, are in danger of being relegated. Those teams play 23 May in what will likely decide the fate of both nations for 2023.

Switzerland now plays Slovakia tomorrow while the Kazakhs’ schedule doesn’t get any easier. After a day off, they’ll face Canada on Thursday.

"I think we didn't play our game," suggested Swiss forward Timo Meier. "We made some mistakes. But in these tournaments, sometimes you don't play your best, but you've got to find a way to win. We did that today, so we got the three points. Slovakia is a good team. They're physical. They play hard. They've got some players that can make plays, but we've got to focus on ourselves. We've got to be better than we were today for sure. We've got to clean up some things, and then we're going to be ready."

"We know it's a tough test for us," said Kazakh's Jesse Blacker, one of the goalscorers. "But you know, if we play our game and do what we can do, that's all we can really worry about, and the outcome will happen. Whatever happens, we move forward. Obviously we need to win a few games. That's the first thing. We just have to limit our mistakes and our breakdowns, and I think we'll be a lot better."
Switzerland vs Kazakhstan - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
Switzerland rolled along with a solid effort tonight at the Jaahalli to defeat Kazakhstan, 3-2. But for the goaltending of Andrei Shutov the Swiss might well have hit double digits.
SUI KAZ 17 MAY 2022
The first period was scoreless largely thanks to strong defensive play both ways. In fact, the best chance came in the early going when Denis Malgin snapped a shot off the post to the near side, beating goalie Andrei Shutov but not the iron.

A bit later Shutov made the save of the period. Philipp Kurashev and Timo Meier came down the ice on a two-on-one, but Shutov got over to deny Meier what looked like a sure goal.

At the other end, Sandro Aeschlimann had precious little to do thanks to his d-men. But Kazakhstan’s best chance came when Curtis Valk kept the puck in at the Swiss blue line, waltzed right in on goal…and rifled a shot well over the net. It’s for reasons like that that the team scored only one goal in each of its last three World Championship games.

The Swiss came out with a more determined effort in the second, and passes started connecting as their speed started to become an effective weapon. They got on the board early thanks to Malgin, who was stationed to the side of Shutov’s goal. A point shot hit traffic in front, and the puck landed right on Malgin’s stick. He smacked it in at 3:58 for his 3rd goal of the tournament

Moments later he had a great chance to score again, but Shutov came up with one of several spectacular saves he would make this period. At the other end, Aeschlimann got his shoulder on a good effort from Alikhan Asetov. The Shutov show continued as he made dazzling saves off Nico Hischier in front and then he got a toe on a well-placed shot from Dean Kukan.

Dario Simion made it 2-0 at 14:32, capitalizing on a turnover at the Kazakh blue line. He went in alone and beat Shutov cleanly to the glove side. Shots through 40 minutes favoured the Swiss, 30-8, but thanks to Shutov the score was still respectable. 

The Kazakhs got on the board early in the third on a short-handed situation. Defender Jesse Blacker controlled a puck at his blue line and dashed the length of the ice on a two-on-one, choosing to shoot instead of pass. He beat Aeschlimann under the blocker to cut the Swiss lead in half and give the team some much-needed life. It was his first goal of the tournament, and came in a game in which he led all players with 25:44 of ice time.

The Kazakhs then got a power play, but it was Switzerland that had the best two chances. But again Shutov came up big, this time stoning Fabrice Herzog twice. A few minutes later Herzog finally got one when he whacked home a gorgeous back-door pass from Andres Ambuhl at 15:39.

But Kazakhstan wasn't done just yet. Valeri Orekhov scored from a sharp angle at 17:52, a shot Aeschlimann should have had, and again the game was left hanging in the balance. The Kazakhs pulled Shutov for an extra attacker but could get no closer, and they suffered another defeat.

"So far, we've reached our goal," said Switzerland's Jonas Siegenthaler. "Tomorrow there's a different opponent. We're already looking forward to facing a new challenge. We've just got to play with our pace and play our hockey and we have a good chance to win those games."
Switzerland vs Kazakhstan - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship