By Mackenzie Liddell
The United States rallied from a goal down and secured a berth in the semifinal with a tightly fought 2-1 win over Switzerland on New Year’s Eve in Buffalo, N.Y.
Chris Kreider and Mitch Callahan scored for the U.S. (4-0), which dominated the play but weren’t able to capitalize on the numerous chances they had on Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz.
Inti Pestoni scored the lone goal for Switzerland (2-2), who will face Canada in a quarterfinal showdown on Sunday.
Jack Campbell made his fourth consecutive start and played a vital role in the victory, making 25 saves.
But it was his counterpart that had the crowd at HSBC Arena buzzing most of the evening.
Conz was the story for Switzerland, as he stifled the U.S. all game long and finished with 40 saves.
Pestoni opened the scoring at 7:01 of the first, breaking down the right wing untouched and snapping a shot past Campbell’s blocker.
But a cross-checking penalty to Nino Niederreiter minutes later changed momentum in Team USA’s favor.
On the ensuing power play, Charlie Coyle worked the puck along the end boards and made a nifty behind-the-back pass to Kreider, who snapped it past Conz to tie the game 1-1.
The U.S. upped the intensity after the goal, but Conz was unflappable in the Swiss goal, coming up with some key saves to keep the score tied.
His teammates didn’t make it easy for him, however, as the Swiss took back-to-back penalties, including a dangerous hit from behind by Tristan Scherwey on Patrick Wey. Despite the severity of the hit, Scherwey was only given a two-minute checking from behind penalty and a 10-minute misconduct.
But the Swiss killed the two penalties – including a brief 5-on-3 – and went into the intermission tied at ones.
Conz’s acrobatics didn’t stop after the first as he was equally solid to start the second.
The Swiss looked to go ahead at 7:51 of the second period, but Campbell scrambled to keep his pad on the line after a puck nearly squeaked past him after bouncing off the end boards. They reviewed the play but there was no evidence the puck crossed the goal line.
The Americans took their first lead of the game at 13:53 when Callahan circled behind Conz and stuffed the puck by him with a wraparound to put the Americans up 2-1.
Switzerland kept pushing forward in the third and had a few opportunities to tie the game, but Sven Bartschi blasted a slap shot off the post and then was turned away by Campbell, who made an acrobatic glove save on him late in the game.
Team USA’s victory could set the stage for a highly-anticipated match against Canada on Monday if they survive their quarterfinal contest with Switzerland.