Swiss win in OT, stay in Group A
by Andrew Podnieks|13 APR 2024
photo: Andre Ringuette/IIHF
Alina Muller scored a highlight-reel goal at 4:07 of the three-on-three overtime to give Switzerland a 3-2 win over Germany and with it the final spot in Group A for 2025. It was her second goal of the game and first two goals of the tournament, and they couldn't have come at a better time.

Although both teams lost in the quarter-finals on Thursday, they were on different trajectories. Germany had won all four of its preliminary games while the Swiss didn’t win any. And Germany’s goal differential was 13-3 through five games while the Swiss was a disappointing 4-18.

Muller (#25) and linemate Lara Stalder (#7) dominated the game for the Swiss. Stalder scored the other goal and the pair accounted for five of seven goals for the team in the tournament. On the winner, Muller collected the puck inside her own blue line and flew down the right wing before beating Sandra Abstreiter with a shot to the far side.

Honourable metion has to go to defender Lara Christen, who saved a German goal earlier in the OT. Goalie Saskia Maurer made a save, but the puck squirted behind her, and Laura Kluge was there ready to knock the puck in. Christen had other ideas, diving back to check Kluge and sweep the puck out of harm's way.

"We had our backs against the wall today," said captain Stalder. "We knew Germany would come out really hard. They've had an amazing tournament and had a great game against the Czechs. But today we fought for every loose puck, and this was a big win. We lost our goalie but still fought hard, and when the puck was on the goal line in overtime, my heart stopped! But that's hockey. Sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don't."

Germany was trying to qualify for the group of the five, better-ranked nations for the first time since the vertical format was introduced to the Women’s Worlds in 2012, but they nonetheless leave Utica feeling good about their tournament.

"We left it all on the ice," said captain Daria Gleissner. "It was a very good tournament for us; we're headed in the right direction. I'm pretty proud of our group. We never gave up did our best on every shift. We won four games in a row and then lost the quarter-finals only 1-0."

The game got off to a slow, if not cautious, start, the only goal of the opening period coming late after some nice Swiss pressure in the German end. Christen’s floating shot from the point was tipped down by Muller at 17:58, the puck dipping under the expecting glove of Abstreiter. It was Muller’s first goal of the tournament.

The first big momentum change occurred midway through the second. Stalder set up Muller to the back side for what looked like a sure goal, but Abstreiter extended her right pad at the last second to make a huge save. Germany then went to the power play and capitalized.

Lilli Welcke spotted sister Luisa Welcke to the back side, and she didn’t miss with her one-timer at 10:20 to make it a 1-1 game. The Swiss re-took the lead just two minutes later, though. This time Stalder was the recipient of a nice pass from Ivana Wey in the slot, and Stalder’s quick shot slid between the pads of Abstreiter at 12:27.

But Germany wasn’t out of the picture by any means. They tied the game late thanks to a terrific individual effort by Emily Nix. She built some speed through centre ice and barged her way around defender Sinja Leemann. As she fell to the ice, she slid the puck between Brandli’s pads at 18:18 for one of the prettier goals of the tournament.

Brandli was injured at the 4:31 mark of the third period. As she froze the puck to the side of her net, Celina Haider clipped the goalie on the head accidentally, leaving Brandli in significant distress. She was helped off the ice and Saskia Maurer came on in relief.

"We have a lot of new faces and young girls who are playing for the first time against the top teams in the world," Stalder noted. "Every game is a great experience for them. The women's game isn't about individual skills anymore; teams have to win a game now."