In a battle between Group B’s only two remaining unbeaten teams, Switzerland defeated Canada 3-2 before a mostly pro-Swiss crowd of 8,234 at Arena Riga. As a result, Switzerland remains perfect with 15 points in five games to lead the group, while Canada remains on 11 points and drops to third, with Czechia sandwiched between on 13.
This was Switzerland’s fourth win in its last five meetings with Canada at the World Championships.
“I think we just play our game,” said Nico Hischier, who scored his first goal of the tournament in his second game today. “I think it’s not easy to play against us. Today again was a good game overall and we were able to score one more goal than them.”
“They've had a good tournament so far,” Canadian forward Scott Laughton said about the Swiss. “They added some big boys and good players. I thought we were prepared. They came out hard in the first, kept us on our heels, but then we found our game and got more chances. We'll try to build off that and look forward.”
Canada outshot Switzerland 29-26.
The first period was scoreless. Canada went to the attack right away and Adam Fantilli had the first good scoring chance of the game but was hooked by Andrea Glauser, resulting in a power play. After that was killed, however, the Swiss were on the offensive for most of the first period, particularly in the late going.
Canada opened the scoring on the power play just seconds shy of the game’s midpoint. Receiving the puck in the corner, Tyler Toffoli showed great patience to work himself into a good shooting position and then, with Lawson Crouse providing a screen, let go a shot from the top of the circle that beat Leonardo Genoni to the near-side top corner.
Not to be outdone, Hischier tied it on a great individual play of his own. Michael Fora carried the puck into the Canadian zone but was bumped off of it. But Hischier picked it up near the boards, then cut in front, using his body to shield the puck, and beat Samuel Montembeault glove side.
With three minutes to go in the middle frame, Switzerland took the lead. Christian Marti’s one-timer from the point hit a body in front, but Dario Simion was there on the doorstep to sweep in the loose puck.
After killing off a penalty midway through the third period, Canada tried to mount some offence but the Swiss doubled their lead on the counter-attack. After a quick sequence of passes just inside the line, Nino Niederreiter carried the puck down low and circled the Canadian net and backhanded out front to Andres Ambuhl, who put it in the near side before Montembeault could slide across.
Just when it seemed the Swiss had the game, however, Canada drew close again with 3:38 to play when Michael Carcone nicely deflected Brad Hunt’s point shot. And then the Canadians came so close to tying it with just over two minutes to play when Toffoli found Samuel Blais streaking to the net. Blais made a move to his backhand but, in desperation, Genoni managed to get his pad on the backhand attempt and deflect it high. But that’s as close as they would come.
“It was a good game for us,” said Swiss forward Denis Malgin. “We played as a team. It was a hard game, but we did it again. We have good players, more NHL players now and we're getting better as a nation. Hockey is getting better and better in Switzerland, and you can see it in the results at the international level.”
“We started getting better as the game went on, started to play more aggressively, less sitting back,” said Laughton. “Obviously, not the result we want but we're still in a decent spot. We have to find our way the next two games and then figure things out.”
All teams in the group now have two games remaining, with both Switzerland and Canada both still to play Czechia as those teams all jockey for the top three seeds. Tomorrow Czechia plays Switzerland, on Monday Canada plays Norway, and on Tuesday Canada plays Czechia and Switzerland wraps up Group B against host Latvia.