International Ice Hockey Federation

Ruedi scores shootout winner

Ruedi scores shootout winner

'Maurer Power' backstops Swiss to shootout win

Published 08.01.2017 20:43 GMT+1 | Author Derek O'Brien
Ruedi scores shootout winner
PREROV, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 08: Switzerland's Saskia Maurer #29 makes the save on this play against the Czech Republic's Noemi Neubauerova #25 during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Lisa Ruedi scored the only goal of the shootout and was credited with her second goal of the game as Switzerland beat the Czech Republic 3-2.

However, the real hero of the game was goaltender Saskia Maurer, without whom the game would have got nowhere near overtime.

Through 65 minutes of hockey the shots on goal were 46-14 in favour of the Czechs, but Mauer was unbeatable for nearly two periods as her team built up a two-goal lead. The Czechs battled back, but in the end the Swiss take the extra point.

“The hardest part was the traffic in front,” Maurer said afterward. “I couldn't see some of the shots.”

It was the second straight game where Switzerland was out-shot by more than 2-1. When asked the difference between the two games, Maurer said that “there were more shots in this one.”

“We are very happy and very proud that we could win this type of game,” said Swiss head coach Andrea Kroni. When asked about Maurer, Kroni replied, “Oh, she did a great job! She's really young – not even 16 yet – but she's a really good goalkeeper and that's why she's here.”

For Czech goaltender Kristyna Blahova, the game was also challenging, but in a different way.

"It was very difficult to stay sharp with so few shots," she said afterward. "For a goalie, the hardest thing might be if you only get two shots in a period.”

“We're disappointed with the outcome,” said Czech coach Jan Fidrmuc. “The way we played for two periods, it never should have gone to a shootout. We made a nice comeback, but unfortunately it didn't lead to a victory. The Swiss goalie played very well.”

It was another large and enthusiastic gathering in Prerov as 2230 came out to support the Czech team, but Noemi Ryhner silenced them less than three minutes in, converting Shannon Sigrist's pass and quickly firing it between Blahova's legs.

The Czechs shook it off and dominated the rest of the first period but were unable to score a goal, and the Swiss got a lucky bounce in the 16th minute to double their lead. Ryhner's shot deflected over the net and took a strange bounce off the end boards. Blahova took just long enough to find the puck to give the chance to Ruedi, who was parked right at the side of the net as the puck came to her.

Overall the shots were 11-6 in favour of the Czechs in the first period, but the tournament hosts completely took over the game in the second period in all aspects but on the scoreboard. They fired 23 shots at Mauer in the middle frame, and they would need all of them before they found an opening.

“In the second period we took a step back,” said Kroni. “We stopped playing aggressively and backed off and allowed the Czech Republic to have a lot of chances.”

The best chance was a clear-cut breakaway by Noemi Neubauerova just past the game's midpoint. The Czech forward made a great move and appeared to freeze Maurer before going to the forehand deke, but the Swiss goalie managed to stretch her left skate back to the goalpost and take away the room that Neubauerova appeared to have.

Asked if it was her best save of the game, Maurer grinned and replied, “It was one of them.”

“We played better than yesterday and out-skated our opponents, but we didn't score enough goals,” Neubauerova sighed. “After the first period we came on strong, we didn't quit, and that's important.”

After driving to the net in ever-increasing waves, it was finally a fortunate bounce for the Czechs that got them on the board. On the power play with just over a minute left in the period, Adela Skrdlova barely kept the puck onside at the point, then let go a wrister toward the crowd of players in front. It hit Aneta Cornova, who wasn't even facing the play, and deflected over the shoulder of Maurer, who didn't see a thing. 

Following the shooting gallery on Maurer that was the second period, the Swiss tidied up their team defence somewhat in the third period and greatly reduced the number of shots against, but they didn't prevent the tying goal. Magdalena Erbenova pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone, made a couple of nice moves to get into a good shooting position and fired a wrister just inside the far post with 8:23 to play in regulation time.

After a scoreless overtime, the game was decided in a shootout, where Maurer made three more saves. Blahova stopped the first two shots she faced, but in the third round was beaten by a perfect shot by Ruedi, which went off the back bar and out so quickly that the goal wasn't awarded until referee Yana Zueva consulted a linesman and the goal judge.

The Czechs momentarily lead Group B now with four points, while the Swiss are third with two. After two games in two days, the teams will have Monday off before finishing off the group stage on Tuesday – the Czechs against Finland with first place on the line, and Switzerland against Japan.

“We'll celebrate this win but that will only last one hour,” Kroni asserted. “After that we'll start looking ahead to Japan, and we have to win that game.”


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