Dionicio gets Swiss shootout winner
by Lucas Aykroyd|31 DEC 2022
Switzerland's Liekit Reichle celebrates his goal against Slovakia.
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF
Rodwin Dionicio scored the shootout winner to give Switzerland a 4-3 win over Slovakia in a hotly contested group finale on New Year's Eve in Moncton. The Swiss, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit versus Slovakia, still finish fourth in Group B and will face the winner of Group A in Monday's quarter-finals in Halifax.

"We wanted the three points," said Switzerland's Lorenzo Canonica. "We took two points, but it's still good."

Taking the 20th shootout attempt, Dionicio, a Niagara IceDogs defenceman, stickhandled in and knifed a one-handed shot through the legs of Slovak goalie Adam Gajan.

Depending on the result of the U.S.-Finland game, the Slovaks will be either second or third in Group B.

Switzerland has won three games in extra time, having edged Finland 3-2 in overtime and Latvia 3-2 in a shootout. Now it's time to gear up for the quarter-finals.

"I think everyone has to know we can beat everyone," said Switzerland's Liekit Reichle. "Then we have to go hard and work our ass off, and then we're going to beat them."

In regulation time, Reichle had a goal and an assist, and Canonica and Misha Ramel added singles.

Slovakia's Servus Petrovsky stepped up with two second-period goals in 49 seconds, and Adam Sykora also scored. Petrovsky's linemates Filip Mesar and Libor Nemec had two assists apiece. 

"I made a couple of good passes, but we lost, so it was a little bit unlucky," Mesar said. "In the shootout, it's a little bit of a lottery."

"I think we will play Sweden or Canada, but I think it doesn't matter," said Petrovsky. "We have to play our best game in the quarter-finals, and we can win against everybody."
Gajan, a surprise breakout star at these World Juniors, made 32 stops in his third straight start. Swiss goalie Kevin Pasche returned in net after ceding place to Alessio Beglieri in the 5-1 loss to the Americans and was strong with 29 saves.
Switzerland vs Slovakia - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
SUI SVK 31 DEC 2022
In an opening period where shots were even at 10-10, the Swiss had the better chances, but Slovakia’s netminder was a difference-maker.

Gajan came up big early, stopping Louis Robin and Lian Bichsel on back-to-back chances off the rush. And Slovakia made it 1-0 just seconds later, courtesy of Adam Sykora’s persistence. He looped around Pasche’s net, eluding Swiss forward Mischa Ramel’s check, and whacked the puck in on his third attempt at 4:11.

"I went behind the net to get the puck and got it to the crease," said Sykora, a New York Rangers prospect. "I got three rebounds and just scored. So I was really happy for that score."

Gajan continued to bar the door, robbing Miles Muller in tight to the left of his crease. He got some help from his right post when Muller dangled in and lifted a backhander off the iron just before the 11-minute mark. Soon afterwards, the Slovak goalie was there again to stop Robin from completing a nice three-way passing play off the rush.

At 1:07 of the second period, Switzerland drew even. Jonas Taibel, a hometown hero with the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats, cruised over the Slovak blue line and slipped the puck left to Reichle. His quick release from the hash marks at the left faceoff circle soared over the goalie's glove.

This was the first official World Junior goal for the GCK Lions Zurich forward, who tallied the shootout winner versus Latvia.

"That's huge, a lot of pressure off my shoulders," Reichle said. "The first goal at the tournament is always special. I think I have more confidence for the quarter-finals."

The Swiss ramped up their physical game. Just past the midway mark, Bichsel leveled Slovak assistant captain with a thunderous hit behind Pasche's cage.

With about four minutes remaining in the middle frame, Slovakia had a glorious chance to regain the lead. Adam Zlnka found a pinching Jozef Kmec right in front with a cross-ice pass, but he couldn't get it past the Swiss netminder.

Slovakia made it 2-1 by finishing off an electrifying play on the rush at 17:20. Mesar whizzed the puck cross-ice on the breakout to Libor Nemec, who pulled a sweet toe drag inside the Swiss blue line before finding Petrovsky in front. The Owen Sound Attack forward, who hails from Presov, went bar down and raised his arms in joy.

The same three players drew points on Petrovsky's breakaway goal to make it 3-1 at 18:09. Mesar and Petrovsky did it up Wayne Gretzky-to-Jari Kurri style. Mesar pivoted at the red line to send Petrovsky in alone, and Pasche got a piece of his high shot, but not enough.

"I felt amazing after the second goal," said Petrovsky. "It gave me energy, so I felt really good on the ice."

Pasche stopped Peter Repcik on a partial break in the last minute of the second period to keep things close.

Switzerland came out hard to start the third. At 2:20, Reichle deftly drew a cluster of Slovak defenders to him on the rush before slipping a pass to an unguarded Ramel, who zipped one over Gajan's glove to make it 3-2.

An Alex Ciernik slashing minor opened the door for Lorenzo Canonica's 3-3 equalizer on the power play at 8:40. Gajan stoned the Lugano-trained shooter once from the right faceoff circle, but couldn't do it a second time versus a deadly one-timer.

"I just saw the puck," Canonica said. "We worked a bit in practice to take that one-timer, so I fired it into the net."

With 5:16 remaining in regulation, Slovakia got a big chance to go ahead when Muller clipped Simon Nemec with a high stick in front of the benches. The Slovaks largely bottled up their opponents during the man advantage and came close to scoring just after it expired. Captain Simon Nemec tried to find Mesar in front and the puck almost deflected past Pasche, but no dice.

In overtime, Simon Nemec was sent off for tripping up Switzerland's Brian Zanetti, but the Slovaks stepped up with great shot-blocks and Gajan denied Attilio Biasca with a great glove grab with seven seconds left.

Since Switzerland and Slovakia first clashed at the 1996 World Juniors (a 7-3 Slovak win), this has been a very even rivalry. With the win, Slovakia’s all-time record against Switzerland improves to seven wins, one tie, and six losses.
Switzerland vs Slovakia - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship