Swiss open with OT upset over Finns
by Lucas Aykroyd|26 DEC 2022
Switzerland's Lorenzo Canonica (#14) celebrates his second-period goal against Finland with teammates.
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF
Switzerland upset Finland 3-2 in overtime to kick off the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship at Moncton’s Avenir Centre on Monday. Attilio Biasca scored the winner at 0:41.

Defenceman Lian Bichsel pinched in to dig the puck out of the corner and sent it to Biasca, who scored with a rising shot from the right faceoff circle. Biasca, the captain of the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads, led Switzerland with four goals and six points at the 2022 World Juniors.

"Two guys were battling in the corner," said Biasca. "I was staying a little high, and then Bichsel made a great play to me. And I tried to shoot it and it worked."

Switzerland, although clearly the underdog, was the better team in every period and deserved the win. It was just the sixth win for Switzerland over Finland in World Junior history. The last Swiss victory was 5-2 on 31 December 2019 in Trinec, Czechia.

"It feels awesome," said Biasca. "Everybody worked really hard. We really deserved that. But then we need to stay humble. Now we can't get too high. Every team is hard-working. It's great for sure. We're gonna cheer for a little bit, but tomorrow it's back to work."

In net for this Boxing Day battle were Finland’s Aku Koskenvuo, making his World Junior debut after serving as Finland's starter at the 2021 U18 Worlds, and Switzerland’s Kevin Pasche, appearing in his second World Juniors. Koskenvuo was unexpectedly busy, as final shots favoured Switzerland 27-16.

In regulation time, Lorenzo Canonica and Jeremy Jabola scored for Switzerland. Jonas Taibel, a member of the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats, added two helpers.

Kalle Vaisanen led the way with a goal and an assist for Finland and Sami Paiviranta had a pair of assists. Konsta Kapanen added a single.

Switzerland’s lone World Junior bronze medal came in 1998. The Swiss finished eighth at the last World Juniors in August under current head coach Marco Bayer.
Finland vs Switzerland - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
FIN SUI 26 DEC 2022
In pre-tournament exhibition play, the Swiss had surprisingly good results after a 6-0 loss to host Canada. They defeated Czechia 4-2 on 22 December and Sweden 4-3 in overtime the following day, raising optimism among Swiss fans. Hard work and good structure enabled them to shock Finland in the opener.

Asked when the Swiss realized they could win this game, Taibel said: "I think from the first second, because we knew we can trust our system. Our system's really good. We can play against every opponent. It was just a good game."

Under new head coach Tomi Lamsa, the Finns are questing for their sixth World Junior title. They previously won this tournament in 1987, 1998, 2014, 2016, and 2019. They came heartbreakingly close to the gold medal at the 2022 World Juniors in Edmonton, losing the final 3-2 to host Canada in overtime. The Finns also captured the bronze medal in 2020.

Based on this game, though, Suomi has plenty of room for improvement.

"I thought we played afraid to win," said Finland's Brad Lambert, appearing in his third World Juniors. "We weren't attacking enough. We didn't win enough one-on-one battles. We didn't have the puck enough. We just didn't play fast enough. You know, we're faster than them, but we played played too slow, too careful, and it cost us."

After a tightly played, scoreless first period, Konsta Kapanen drew first blood for Finland at 2:24 of the second period. The son of former 831-game NHLer Sami Kapanen went to the net to cash in the rebound from Vaisanen's shot off the rush, as Pasche was unable to control the puck with his glove.

Switzerland wasn't going to go away quietly. Seconds after the Swiss killed off the first Finnish man advantage, Taibel fought off Aleksi Heimosalmi's check behind the net and centred the puck to Canonica, whose high shot bulged the twine to make it 1-1 at 12:54 of the middle frame.

In the third period, sloppy Finnish defensive play enabled Switzerland to grab a 2-1 lead at 4:43. Defenceman Otto Salin couldn't hold on to the puck as Swiss forward Mats Alge barged past him to take a swipe. The puck squeezed through Koskenvuo and Jabola banged in the unguarded disc.

After an ineffective Finnish man advantage, Vaisanen notched the equalizer with a nice effort at 8:09. The 2021 fourth-round pick of the New York Rangers came off the left side boards and zinged a wrister from the edge of the faceoff circle that whizzed past Pasche's blocker. Vaisanen has three goals in 27 games with TPS Turku in his second Liiga season.

But that was the last chance for Finland to celebrate on Boxing Day. With this result. Finland’s all-time World Junior record against Switzerland drops to 23 wins and six losses.

"We've got a long way to go," said Lambert. "It's just one game. We've gotta look ahead for tomorrow and watch video and see what we did wrong and improve that for tomorrow."

Finland gets right back at it on Tuesday with another noon showdown against Slovakia. The Swiss take on Latvia that evening.
Finland vs Switzerland - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship