International Ice Hockey Federation

Tight win for Switzerland

Tight win for Switzerland

Swiss edge Japanese in Relegation preview

Published 10.01.2017 23:19 GMT+1 | Author Derek O'Brien
Tight win for Switzerland
PREROV, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 10: Switzerland's Shannon Sigrist #9 scores a first period goal against Japan's Mei Sato #29 on this shot during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
In what turned out to be a preview of the relegation series, Switzerland edged Japan 2-1 to take third place in Group B.

Less than two hours before they were set to face off, these two teams found out this would be the first of three – and possibly four – straight games. The only difference is, this one wouldn't count in their relegation series, other than determine who would be the home team for the first and third games.

“This is the third year in a row that we have ended up in the relegation series because of the game right before us,” sighed Swiss coach Andrea Kroni, after watching the Czech Republic's overtime win over Finland dash her team's quarter-final hopes. “It's disappointing for all of our players, but we had to put it aside because we had a hockey game to play. They did the job, they won, so I'm proud of them for that.”

After a scoreless first period, the teams traded goals in the second, and then Noemi Ryhner scored a power-play goal in the first minute of the third period, and that proved to be the game-winner.

“I think we played pretty good today, but not enough goals,” assessed Japanese head coach Yoshifumi Fujisawa, echoing the problem his team had against the Czech Republic and Finland.

Like they have all tournament, the Japanese played their opponents tough. And as she has been all tournament, Saskia Maurer was excellent in the Swiss goal, although in this game she was a lot less busy than against Finland or the Czech Republic, facing only 18 shots in the game.

Both second-period goals were scored in the first six minutes. Lara Zimmermann struck first for Switzerland, beating two Japanese players to the puck near the Swiss blue line getting a breakaway, beating Mei Sato high to the blocker side. Then four minutes later, Moeka Tsutsumi whacked in a rebound to tie the score for Japan.

A Japanese penalty late in the second period carried over into the third, and just 26 seconds in, Ryhner's big slapper from the point went through everybody and in.

After that, Switzerland put the game on lockdown, allowing only five Japanese shots the rest of the way.

“Today we were playing for pride, for Japan hockey,” Fujusawa continued, “but tomorrow will be more important.”

Assessing the opponent he will be well familiar with over the next few days, Fujisawa said, “Switzerland is a good team. They have a good goalie and they're big, so it's going to be tough.”

As for the Japanese, Kroni said, “They are a difficult team to play against because they are very disciplined and they never quit.

“We wanted to show the Japanese that we can beat them. Now we have to go out tomorrow and the next game and do it.”

These two teams now go at it for real starting tomorrow, with the second game on Friday and the third, if necessary on Saturday. The winner of the best-of-three series stays in the top division, while the loser goes down to Division I, Group A.


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