It’s far too soon to call Switzerland one of Canada’s greatest rivals at the World Junior Championship, but the pesky Swiss have continuously given the Canadians trouble at the competition and nearly took home a round robin victory over Canada.
Canada’s Tuesday outing against the Swiss got off to a shaky start after Brendan Perlini was whistled for holding just 46 seconds into the opening frame. The Swiss took advantage of the power play, too, with Damien Riat setting up in front of Canadian netminder Mackenzie Blackwood. A cross-ice pass from Denis Malgin was blasted by Noah Rod and deflected perfectly off of Riat and into the net.
With less than four and a half minutes remaining in the frame, Switzerland extended their lead thanks to a goal that deflected in off of Dario Meyer after a shot by Marco Forrer.
Before the period was out, Canada finally put one past Joren van Pottelberghe thanks to a sharp-angle shot by Dylan Strome that found its way over the Swiss goaltender’s shoulder. It was a huge goal for Canada, too, as it brought them within one before the first period closed.
In the second frame, the Canadians brought the game even on a goal by defenseman Joe Hicketts. Hicketts found a soft spot in coverage in the Swiss zone, took a perfect feed from Lawson Crouse and fired a quick shot past van Pottelberghe.
The third period would produce nothing for either team, though Canada dominated the play and outshot the Swiss 16-8 in the frame. Canadian winger Jake Virtanen had a few great opportunities in the period, but didn’t get all of each attempt and van Pottelberghe was able to turn aside both of Virtanen’s opportunities.
Overtime solved nothing between the two sides, and Canada would take home the victory thanks to consecutive backhand dekes that beat van Pottelberghe. The first was a slick move from Brayden Point and the second, which was almost an exact copy of the first, came from Matt Barzal.
Failing to get by the Swiss in regulation could have big implications for Canada, as the win only earned them two of a possible three points in the standings. If Team USA is able to beat Switzerland and Denmark in regulation and if Sweden beats Denmark in regulation, Canada can finish no higher than third place in Group A.
Canada is back in action Thursday when they play Sweden at 1 p.m. ET.