U.S. firepower too much for Swiss
by Lucas AYKROYD|28 DEC 2023
The U.S.'s Jimmy Snuggerud (#81) is all smiles after scoring in the first period of an 11-3 victory over Switzerland at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Jimmy Snuggerud scored a hat trick in the first period as the U.S. trounced Switzerland 11-3 on Thursday at Frolundaborg. It was a showcase of the skill and speed that the USA Hockey National Team Development Program preaches in Plymouth, Michigan.

Gavin Brindley stepped up with two goals and an assist, while Frank Nazar had four helpers.

Coach David Carle’s team is perfect with two regulation wins. Execution-wise, this was a big step up from the 4-1 opening win over Norway. The U.S. outshot Switzerland 40-24 as backup goalie Jacob Fowler earned his first World Junior win.

Swiss startin goalie Loren Gruter was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots. Ewan Huet, the son of legendary French national team goalie Cristobal Huet, took over between the pipes.

The gold medal-contending Americans attacked early, frequently, and effectively. The Swiss – who haven’t progressed beyond the quarter-finals since 2019’s fourth-place finish – were ill-equipped to fend off the incoming tidal wave. The U.S. lineup boasts 10 NHL first-rounders.

Just 1:20 in, Will Smith one-timed a beautiful Zeev Buium seam pass through Gruter’s legs for his first World Junior goal.

Smith – the fourth overall pick of the San Jose Sharks in the 2022 NHL Draft – led the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship with 20 points when the U.S. won gold in Basel, Switzerland.

Two minutes later, Snuggerud scored from the side of the net to make it 2-0. The 19-year-old University of Minnesota sniper tallied again off a faceoff in the Swiss end at 8:11.

Despite trailing by three, Switzerland wasn’t completely deflated. Gregory Weber scored a goal-of-the-tournament candidate at 9:17, stickhandling in off the left side through a forest of U.S. players and sliding the puck in past Augustine’s right pad. It was the first Swiss goal in Gothenburg after a 3-0 opening loss to Slovakia. 

Snuggerud calmly restored the three-goal U.S. lead at 12:36 with a great wrister, once again off a draw in Switzerland’s zone. You could almost hear the cheering of fans of the St. Louis Blues, who drafted him 23rd overall in 2022. Snuggerud had 13 points for last year's bronze-medal U.S. team.

Weber tried to counter with a one-handed move reminiscent of Peter Forsberg’s famous gold-medal shootout winner at the 1994 Olympics, but the puck trickled wide.

With 1:31 left in the first, Buium made it 5-1 on a flukey play off the rush as the puck bounced in off Swiss blueliner Leon Muggli’s skate.

In the second period, it was Brindley's turn to shine. By the midway point, the University of Michigan winger had scored two slick goals off the rush and set up Gabe Perreault for the first U.S. power play goal of the game.

Isaac Howard zinged a high shot past Huet for a 9-1 edge at 14:55 with a delayed penalty coming up to Switzerland.

The teams traded goals in the third period, as Gael Christe and Thierry Schild scored for the Swiss and Quinn Finley and Eric Pohlkamp (on the man advantage) replied for the U.S. to round out the scoring at 11-3.

The U.S. has never lost to Switzerland at the World Juniors, amassing an all-time record of 24 wins and two ties.

Both sides have key Group B games coming up. The Americans face the Czechs, last year's silver medalists, on Friday. Switzerland battles Norway on Saturday in hopes of avoiding relegation play.