Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Swiss on their knees

Matthew Tkachuk, Zach Werenski, Colin White, and Christian Dvorak all had three-point nights, Tkachuk with two goals and one assist while Dvorak, White, and Werenski had one goal and two assists each. 
Coming into the game, Switzerland had their backs against the wall. Due to their loss to the Danes, they now needed a regulation time win in the game against Team USA to claw their way to the playoff stage and avoid the relegation round. Sometimes pressure just mounts to be too much, and that may have been the case for the tonight. 
“Yesterday we came out with a lot of energy, but we didn’t do that today. We had a hard game last night [against Canada[ and that cost us some energy but that’s not an excuse,” said the Swiss captain Timo Meier.
Christian Dvorak opened scoring at 7:23 when a Swiss defenceman tried to block Zach Werenski’s shot, but instead just stopped it for Dvorak who could backhand it in through van Pottelberghe’s five-hole. 
Just 63 seconds later, Auston Matthews showed off his hand-eye coordination when he shot Matthew Tkachuk’s rebound in mid-air. The Swiss lost the battle in front of their own net, and Matthews, too, was all alone in front of the net when he scored.
The Swiss bench lost all hope 90 seconds later when Brandon Carlo’s wrist shot from the point found its way through a lot of traffic and to the back of the Swiss net to give the Americans a 3-0 lead at 10:13. Werenski made it 4-0 at 12:59 with another wrist shot from high slot, after a nice U.S. 3-on-2 attack, but his shot seemed to stun van Pottelberghe completely. 
Tkachuk scored his first goal in the tournament when he picked up the puck from Matthews, who made a neat drop pass between his legs on the offensive blue line. 
And the sixth goal was another tap in from the doorstep. Now assisted by Ryan Hitchcock, Nick Schmaltz got the goal. 
“It’s good that everybody’s contributing and that was a good finish for us. They had a game last night that went into a shootout, so I guess we were a little fortunate and took advantage of that,” Team USA forward Auston Matthews said.
The Swiss ruined Alex Nedeljkovic’s shutout effort just 1:26 into the second period when Timo Meier broke through to the front of the net and deflected Nico Hischier’s pass into the American net. 
But just 46 seconds later, Tkachuk scored his second goal and third point when he shoved in another Matthews pass. Matthews made a nice move in the corner, using the board to get rid of a Swiss defenceman before dishing the puck to Tkachuk. 
Matthews scored his second of the game at 8:09 into the period when he one-timed Schmaltz’s cross-ice pass into the net on power play. Then Team USA scored shorthanded, just for good measure. 
Colin White and Christian Dvorak got on a 2-on-1. Dvorak waited until White was at the right spot and then sent a saucer to the tape of his blade and he beat Waeber low on the blocker side at 9:00. 
Team USA hit double digits at 30:58 with Ryan Donato’s wrist shot from the faceoff dot.
In the third period, Team USA took their foot off the pedal, but even then, they created several good scoring chances - but they also use the opportunity to show off their skills. 
“You always want to play hard and not cheat. Obviously you don’t try to dangle everybody, but there were a couple of points in the game where we played a little too relaxed which could hurt us against a real powerhouse team," Matthews said.
Team USA coach Ron Wilson wasn't too worried about anh bad habits creeping itno his team's play.
“We wanted to keep the game as simple as possible as long as possible. I didn’t want anybody to take the puck by themlseves and join the parade on the scoreboard.
"We did try to do something fancy sometimes and do some backhand passes, but it’s hard to keep the game plan simple at that point, but we did our best," he said. 
Switzerland will now have to get ready for the best-of-three relegation round against Belarus that begins on 2nd January.
“We didn’t have the right mindset today and now we just have to get ready for the relegation round. We played against Belarus before the tournament and we know it’s a good team.
"But we want to pull ourselves together, and it’s not easy, but we’ll be playing for Swiss hockey to stay in the top division," Meier said. 
Team USA takes on Denmark in their final preliminary round game tomorrow.
“The game doesn’t mean anything to either team but we do want to finish ahead of Canada so I suggest to our team we have to win the game,” Wilson said. 

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