Danes shock Swiss – again!
With three suspended, Swiss fall short
Soeren Nielsen and Mathias From scored for Denmark, which rallied in the third period from a 1-0 deficit. Noah Rod tallied for Switzerland.
"We knew from the beginning that if we kept going the whole game, we would have a good chance of winning," said Danish assistant captain Alexander True.
"It’s a bad feeling," said Switzerland's Tino Kessler.
Things have only gotten worse for Switzerland after a disappointing and undisciplined 8-3 loss to Sweden to open the tournament. The Danes, though, have every reason to be happy after their first-ever regulation-time win at the World Juniors.
In Group A, which features gold medal contenders in the U.S., Sweden, and Canada, this game could have a huge bearing on who ends up in the relegation round.
Last year, the Swiss blew a 2-0 first-period lead in Toronto and wound up losing 4-3 to Denmark in a shootout. It was Denmark’s first win ever in the elite division, and the Cinderella squad vaulted into the quarter-finals. Switzerland had to beat Germany twice in the relegation round to stay up.
"Last year, we played so well against a lot of the top teams that it gave us more confidence this year," said True. "We know we can win every game we go into."
The Swiss played with a shortened bench due to three suspensions from their loss to Sweden.
Forward Chris Egli served the first game of a three-game suspension for a checking to the head violation versus William Nylander. Forward Calvin Thurkauf served his one-game suspension for a boarding violation on Adrian Kempe. Defenceman Fabian Heldner was automatically banned one game due to his match penalty for checking to the head on Joel Eriksson Ek.
On paper, the Danes have a less offensively potent squad this year, lacking the likes of Nikolaj Ehlers and Oliver Bjorkstrand. But that didn't stop them from being competitive in their tournament opener.
Denmark's Thomas Lillie won the goaltending battle with Switzerland's Joren van Pottelberghe. Shots favoured Switzerland 23-22.
The Swiss netminder had to be sharp to stop an early close-range attempt when Jonas Rondbjerg set up Kristian Jensen in front on the rush.
Switzerland opened the scoring at 8:21. Edson Harlacher floated a shot from the line that Rod tipped past a surprised Lillie. It was the Swiss assistant captain’s second goal in as many games.
"We went up 1-0 and then we kind of just went away from our game," said Swiss captain Timo Meier. "That’s what cost us the game today."
Denmark thought Nielsen had scored to tie it up on a mid-second period power play, but the goal was promptly waved off due to a crease violation.
Before the Danish man advantage ended, the teams traded chances, with Dario Meyer narrowly missing at one end and From at the other.
In the third period, Denmark rallied, tying it up at 1:17. Nielsen blitzed in off the left side and unleashed a wrister past van Pottelberghe's glove.
The Danes grabbed a 2-0 lead at 6:20. Capping off a nice line rush, From went hard to the net and whacked in a loose puck behind the Swiss netminder.
With about six minutes remaining, Lillie was alert to foil Kessler from the slot. The Swiss pulled their goalie in the dying moments, but to no avail.
A scrum broke out at the final whistle after Danish assistant captain Mathias Lassen caught Meier with a high hit in the corner to the left of the Danish net. Lassen got a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking to the head.
"All I felt was against the head," said Meier. "It’s stuff that happens. It’s a physical game. I’ll take it. I don’t know what happens afterwards."
Still, the Danes jubilantly celebrated their victory in the opposite corner.
Swiss head coach John Fust went with six defencemen and had to juggle his lines. With Thurkauf out, Meyer suited up alongside Julien Privet and Nico Hischier.
The next opponent for both nations is Canada. The defending champions play Denmark on Monday and Switzerland on Tuesday. Neither of the underdog teams has ever taken any points from Canada.
"That’ll be a really tough challenge for us for sure," True said. "We just have to go out and do our best."
"We know they’re a fast, skilled team with a lot of high-end talent," Meier said. "It’s not going to be easy, for sure."
Denmark vs. Switzerland (2-1)
Last year, a loss to Denmark put Switzerland in the relegation round. This year, the same scenario could play out. The Danes topped the Swiss 2-1 on Sunday.