Team Switzerland’s bumpy start at the 2022 World Junior Championship continued in their second contest of the tournament, a 7-1 loss at the hands of the United States. Despite keeping pace with them through the opening 31 minutes, the wheels fell off for Marco Bayer’s side thereafter, with starting netminder Kevin Pasche chased from the crease before the third period.
Team USA found the back of the net five times in the middle frame, buoyed by three-point performances from Thomas Bordeleau, Carter Mazur, and Luke Hughes. Brock Faber, Landon Slaggert, and Mackie Samoskevich also enjoyed multi-point nights.
“Obviously, we had a slow start with a few things to work on coming out of the first, and I think we fixed those things,” said Team USA forward Slaggert. “Got some more pucks on the net. It’s awesome when everyone’s producing and everyone’s contributing. That’s what makes a team. So, it’s exciting to see that, and hopefully we can keep it going.
“We didn’t have enough shots in the first, and we needed to get bodies in front, take away [the goalie’s] eyes. We did that in the second period, which led us to some success.”
Team Switzerland held their own in the first period and tied the game at one midway through the second but faded after a run of quickfire strikes after the half-hour mark.
“I think just sticking to our game plan and getting pucks deep and getting shots through kind of broke them down in the second period,” explained New Jersey Devils prospect Hughes. “A lot of our offense came from that.”
Switzerland’s loss leaves them adrift at the bottom of Group B with a minus-7 goal differential and an 0-2 record. With that said, let’s look at three takeaways following a difficult night for the central European nation.
Team Switzerland Must Improve on the Powerplay
If the Swiss are to make an impact in Edmonton, they must find a route to the net on the man-advantage. Bayer’s squad earned the first power play of the night but failed to capitalize on Logan Cooley’s penalty for high-sticking.
Although it is easier said than done, Switzerland struggled to cycle possession at five-on-four, a flaw that allowed the USA to kill their three penalties. But there are reasons to be optimistic heading down the stretch.
Switzerland’s remaining games are much more winnable, with forward Simon Knak, an unsigned Nashville Predators draftee, set to benefit from the extra time and space with the puck he is likely to be awarded.
Second Period Collapse Costs Team Switzerland
Although it was always likely that Team Switzerland would find themselves outmatched against the USA, the manner of their defeat was disappointing. They stuck with the Americans for 31 minutes but saw the ice steeply tilted against them thereafter.
“It was a good start,” Henry, Switzerland’s lone scorer, told reporters in Edmonton. “We scored a goal about 10 minutes into the second period, but I think we couldn’t take advantage of this moment and we got scored on three or four times in the last 10 minutes of the second period. And I think that was the key for the win for the USA.”
Indeed. Bayer’s side was outshot 22-7 in the second period, a dominant spell that culminated in Team USA chasing Pasche – who started the contest brightly – from his crease.
To borrow a cliché from soccer: it was a game of two halves. Switzerland’s defensive efforts were impressive until the clock reached 30 minutes, at which point the likes of Hughes and Bordeleau burst to life and emphasized the quality gap between the sides.
Switzerland’s biggest issue in the second period was their constant failure to block shots. They can’t afford to concede three tipped or deflected goals again.
However, there is positive news for the Europeans. If they can carry their commendable opening period resistance into their remaining games, they stand a plausible chance of victory – especially if their team’s save percentage rebounds from .820.
For Team Switzerland, the Only Way Is Up
On a more positive note, Henry’s second-period goal underscored Switzerland’s quality in transition. The 5-foot-9 forward, a middle-six contributor for the second-tier GC Küsnacht Lions, grabbed possession in the neutral zone, held off the backchecking Ian Moore, and slipped the puck through Kaidan Mbreko’s five-hole.
“I saw the puck in the neutral zone,” Henry explained. “It was free. I had some speed there and I could drive to the middle. It had to be quick. So, I went five-hole.”
Henry’s horn-sounding effort saw him join Attilio Biasca and Dario Allenspach on Switzerland’s list of scorers at the World Juniors. If they continue to capitalize on their offensive zone opportunities, more goals will come.
Also of note: defenceman Noah Delémont made his tournament debut against the USA, keeping a neutral plus/minus through 16:43 of deployment. The 20-year-old was a regular for Biel-Bienne in the National League last season, recording five points (one goal, four assists) in 33 top-flight appearances. He will thrive In Switzerland’s final pool matches against Germany and Austria.
What’s Next for Team Switzerland?
After their back-to-back versus Sweden and the USA, Team Switzerland has a rest day before returning to the ice against Germany. Ernst Höfner’s side holds a 1-1 record at the tournament following a 4-2 victory over Austria and a 5-1 defeat to the Americans and are favourites to win Saturday’s 7 PM ET face-off.
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Luke is an award-winning freelance sports journalist from London, England. In addition to his work on the Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators for THW, he covers the Elite Ice Hockey League for British Ice Hockey and world soccer for numerous publications, including on Substack. To stay up to date with his content, follow @LukeJames_32 on Twitter.