2020 WJC Takeaways: Finland vs Switzerland

Switzerland’s 5-2 upset victory over Finland on Tuesday was one of the best games the Swiss U20 Team has ever played. The one game that may come close to it was the 2010 quarter final against Russia in Saskatoon when Switzerland beat the Russians in overtime 3-2.

The team who won that game included Nino Niederreiter, Ramon Untersander, Lukas Stoop, and Tristan Scherwey. The goalkeeper was Benjamin Conz.

Nino Niederreiter (Patxi64/Flickr)

On the Russian side where Yevgeni Kuznetsov, Igor Bobkov, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Nikita Filatov. The Russian team was set to go for a medal and had only lost to Sweden in the preliminary round.

And now this year’s Swiss team has upset Finland, the reigning WJC champions. Could this be the year in which the Swiss finally win a medal again? It would not surprise me. The path is set to do exactly that.

Outstanding Goaltending

As in the game against Slovakia one day earlier, the goaltending was again outstanding, but with a slight difference in the crease. This time it was Stephane Charlin who got the job done.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper from Geneva-Servette HC played with a ton of heart. He stopped almost every shot and never seemed too impressed by the shots the Finns took on goal. He was the reason that Finland only led by the Anttoni Honka goal at 12:48 in the first. Before that he made all the stops look easy. And this is a player with only two National League games under his belt.

Strong Start to the Second Period

In the second period, the Swiss opened strong. Just 19 seconds into the period, Fabian Berri scored to tie the game. Just under two minutes later Gaetan Jobin took a shot to give the Swiss the lead for the first time. This was the key point in the game. From that moment on, the Swiss played better than the Finns.

They were the better skating team, had a more aggressive forecheck, blocked shots and did not suffer a setback after Finland tied the game at 8:33 in the second. They worked even harder to get the lead back, and so it was to no one’s surprise that again Berri was the scorer who got the lead back for Switzerland. The Swiss looked dominant and controlled the game with their style of play. The Finns never had real chance to tie the game again.

New Year’s Eve Gift for Swiss Hockey Fans

When Switzerland went up 4-2 thanks to the goal from Simon Knak, it was clear that the Finns where knocked out. They tried hard to come back and tie the game, but the Swiss did not let them score.

Even when Stephane Patry took a mindless penalty and the Finns pulled Goalie Justus Annunen to get the extra attacker, they had some pretty good chances, but no luck. It was Valentin Nussbaumer who finally sealed the victory for the Swiss. For Swiss hockey fans, that was the best gift this New Year’s Eve.

What’s Up Next

The next game would be on Jan. 2 at 6:30 EST against Russia. That is a must-see game for all hockey lovers around the world. Not only will Switzerland play again against the Russians, but it should also be a high-level game.

If the Swiss team again step up, with Luca Hollenstein a hot goaltender and playing with same the confidence they did against Finland and Slovakia, they should be able to beat the Russians.

What the Swiss Need to Do Against Russia

Coach Thierry Paterlini will tell the team to stick to their gameplan. However, there is one key point that they need to focus on. The Russian team does not like physical play. They like the passing and skating game, while avoiding hits and body contact. This will be the key for the Swiss. Going for the hit, setting up pressure on the Russians and deploying a great forecheck.

But, as a commercial goes for this World Juniors, will they go beyond and further? Definitely! It is time to get the second medal in history for Switzerland. After the 1998 bronze medal, this time it should be gold or silver. And if not, well, there is still next year.

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