KLOTEN, Switzerland – Switzerland beat the U.S. 5-2 Tuesday, overturning an early two-goal deficit in both teams’ final warm-up game before the IIHF world hockey championship starts Friday.
The undermanned American team, which has practised only once since landing in Europe, dressed only 18 players compared to 23 for the host nation, which was playing its seventh match in the past three weeks.
The Americans adapted well in the first period to the larger rink used in international play, first scoring with a two-man advantage and then adding a second while short-handed.
“In the first period we showed a lot of energy and played well,” U.S. coach Ron Wilson said. “Five minutes into the second period our tanks were empty and the Swiss gave it to us pretty good.”
Dustin Brown gave the Americans the lead at 8:17 of the first period, taking advantage of space in the Swiss defence to guide a shot into the unguarded net. The Los Angeles Kings captain made it 2-0 at 14:30 with teammates Colin Wilson and Drew Stafford in the penalty box. Brown intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and slammed a right-hand shot from the point past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Martin Gerber.
Switzerland captain Mark Streit, a New York Islanders defenceman, scored on a slap shot at 8:25 of the second period, and Mathias Seger tied the game at 13:44 following a three-on-two break.
“We have one NHL player and a couple of NHL goalies,” Switzerland coach Ralph Krueger said. “We found a type of game we needed to play and really took it to them.”
Al Montoya had replaced Robert Esche in the U.S. net when the score was 2-1 but was beaten three times early in the third period.
Canadian-born Ryan Gardner, who recently acquired a Swiss passport, twice pounced on rebounds from Montoya saves, and U.S. defenceman Matt Niskanen deflected an aimless pass into his own net with a skate.
Wilson said his roster would be strengthened when more players arrive from North America.
“We’re obviously waiting for other NHL teams to lose – hopefully sooner rather than later,” Wilson said.
The 16-nation world championships begin Friday. Host Switzerland opens Friday evening against France in Bern. Russia and Germany are also in Group B.
The U.S., also plays its qualifying round matches in the Swiss capital and begins Saturday against Latvia in Group C, which also includes Sweden and Austria.
Canada opens its tournament Friday against Belarus. The Canadians also share Group A with Slovakia and Hungary.