International Ice Hockey Federation

Swiss pair tops points race

Swiss pair tops points race

After 4 games Ruedi has 6 points, Ryhner 5

Published 12.01.2017 12:49 GMT+1 | Author Derek O'Brien
Swiss pair tops points race
PREROV, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 11: Switzerland's Noemi Ryhner #14 and Lisa Ruedi #11 battle for the puck against Japan's Yuuki Ito #28 during relegation round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
After Wednesday's action, the top two scorers of the tournament are a pair of 16-year-old Swiss misses – Lisa Ruedi with six points and Noemi Ryhner with five.

Their positions atop the scoring race were established in the first game of the relegation series on Wednesday night, in which Switzerland defeated Japan 5-2. In it, left winger Ruedi scored three goals, and centre Ryhner had two assists.

Hat-tricks are apparently nothing new to Ruedi, who laughed off the question of whether she'd had one before, and gave a nod which indicated, “Of course.” But the fact that she was now the tournament's leading scorer was news to her.

“Oh, I didn’t know that,” a surprised Ruedi reacted when informed of where she and Ryhner ranked. “It’s nice, we’re happy and proud, but more important is the win.”

The pair went a long way to helping the team win. Ryhner assisted on Ruedi's game-opening goal, with the speedy winger streaking down the left side and scoring high, glove side on Japanese netminder Ayu Tonosaki. With the score tied 1-1, Ruedi scored twice in a 1:35 span to put her team ahead. Ryhner again assisted on the third goal, but Ruedi though her second was her best of the game.

“I shot it from the blueline and one of my teammates was in front of the net to screen the goalie. I think it was a nice shot and a good screen also,” Ruedi described.

Like most good scoring duos, one is a playmaking centre and the other is a winger with a good shot. In this pair, Ryhner is the passer and Ruedi is the shooter.

“She's a good passer,” Ruedi said, indicating her centre. The on-ice chemistry between them is surprising, considering they don't play together on a regular basis.

“At home we don't play on the same team, only on the national team,” said Ryhner, who is from Zug, whereas Ruedi plays for the ZSC Lions in Zurich. “It was on the under-15 team when we first played together, I think. But we knew each other a little bit before that.”

“We were best friends,” Ruedi joked.

Ruedi now has five goals in the tournament, which is two more than anyone else. In addition to her three goals against Japan, she scored twice in the team's second game against the Czech Republic – one in regulation time and the shootout-winner.

“I was nervous because it was an important game, because we were still hoping to reach the quarter-finals,” Ruedi recalled about her shootout goal, which went in off the back crossbar and out so fast that the referee didn't initially signal it. “When I was standing on the bench I was thinking 'Oh my God' but when I got to centre ice, I tried to forget it and just take it like it was practice or something, like I've done many times.”

The Swiss did win that game against the Czechs to keep their quarter-final hopes alive for the time being, but ultimately they ended up in the relegation series. Their goal now is to stay in the top group. For Ruedi and Ryhner, that's big, because they are eligible to return for one last U18 tournament next year.

After Wednesday's 5-2 win, which puts Switzerland one game from winning, Ryhner said in her role as team captain: “We started the first period a little slow and didn’t play our game, but in the second period we got it together and started going better.

“We can’t relax, we have to start with a good first period next time,” Ryhner said, looking ahead to Game 2 on Friday. About the Japanese team, she said: “We can’t say they are lazy. They don’t quit. They play a full 60 minutes, so we have to also.”


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