Ryan Gardner had two goals and an assist, and linemate Ivo Rüthemann had a goal and two assists to lead Switzerland to a 4-1 win over Belarus at the Steel Arena. The win gives Switzerland five points in the Group B standings and assures the team a spot in the Qualification Round.
Canada remains on top with six points, and France has a single point from its two games. Belarus is winless in two games.
The top line for coach Sean Simpson played with SC Bern as a unit much of the season but was noticeably quiet in the team’s opening day 1-0 win over France in overtime. Tonight they made up for it with a powerful show of goalscoring.
“Our first game was the first World Championship game for a lot of guys,” Gardner started, “and we were nervous and not firing on all cylinders. Today, we got the good forecheck, and I think the big thing was we were skating a lot better.”
Gardner got the only goal of the opening period on a play the team works on frequently. On the power play, Gardner went to the front of the net, using his huge body to create havoc. A simple Raphael Díaz wrist shot from the point was redirected by Gardner past a screened Andrei Mezin.
“That’s what I have to do. That’s my job. I’m not a fancy player who’s going to dance guys. I have to get to the net, and hopefully bang them home,” Gardner explained.
Although Belarus tied the game early in the second, the Swiss blew the game open with three goals. First, Dmitri Korobov got the puck in the high slot thanks to some nice puck movement in the offensive end. He blew a low slapshot to the stick side of Tobias Stephan that the goalie couldn’t handle to tie the game, 1-1.
Less than three minutes later, though, Goran Bezina made a nice play, taking the puck along the left-wing boards and cutting in front sharply. Mezin tried to pokecheck him, but Bezina protected the puck nicely and slipped it in the far side to make it a 2-1 game.
Gardner got his second of the game at 7:03 when a slapshot went wide to Mezin’s right but bounced back in front on the other side. Gardner tucked the puck in before Mezin could get over in time.
The back-breaker came midway through the period when Rüthemann snapped a great shot over Mezin’s glove on a short-handed breakaway. That made it 4-1 and proved an insurmountable lead for Belarus.
“Today we were skating way better,” said Plüss. “We were able to pressure them. It was a whole different team from the first game, and we’re really satisfied with the way we played. It was a huge win.”
Canada closes out its Preliminary Round with a Tuesday encounter with Switzerland while Belarus takes on France later that same night. The winner of that last game advances to the Qualification Round while the loser heads to the Relegation Round.
IHLC: With the win, Switzerland wins its third game in their 13th and ongoing International Hockey Lineal Championship reign, a title they won from the Czechs on the Euro Hockey Tour in April, and opened the World Championships with a successful defense against France. This is the first meeting for the IHLC between Switzerland and Belarus since the Arosa Challenge in December, where Belarus dethroned the Swiss to win their second ever IHLC in a 4-3 win. Switzerland next faces Canada in Group Play at the Worlds for the IHLC.
05:39 – PEN – Meleshko, high sticking
07:08 – PP GOAL – Gardner (Díaz, Moser)
16:52 – PEN – Díaz, tripping
21:33 – GOAL – Korobov (Kostyuchenok, Stepanov)
24:11 – GOAL – Bezina (Rüthemann, Gardner)
27:03 – GOAL – Gardner (Gerber, Rüthemann)
29:25 – PEN – Bezina, holding
30:51 – SH GOAL – Rüthemann (Ambühl, du Bois)
39:47 – PEN – Furrer, holding
45:16 – PEN – Ambühl, slashing
49:11 – PEN – Denisov, interference
52:57 – PEN – Ryadinski, slashing
57:59 – PEN – Denisov, holding
59:47 – PEN – Demagin, cross checking
W: Stephan (22-23)
L: Mezin (23-27)
SHOTS ON GOAL
7+10+10 = 27
6+7+10 = 23
Goaltenders: Leonardo Genoni, Tobias Stephan. Defence: Goran Bezina (A), Raphael Díaz, Félicien du Bois, Philippe Furrer, Beat Gerber, Luca Sbisa, Mathias Seger (C), Julien Vauclair. Forwards: Andres Ambühl, Matthias Bieber, Ryan Gardner, Romano Lemm, Kevin Lötscher, Thibaut Monnet, Simon Moser, Martin Plüss (A), Ivo Rüthemann, Julien Sprunger, Victor Stancescu, Morris Trachsler.
Goaltenders: Andrei Mezin, Sergei Shabanov. Defence: Vladimir Denisov, Oleg Goroshko, Sergei Kolosov, Dmitri Korobov, Viktor Kostyuchenok (A), Alexander Ryadinski, Nikolai Stasenko. Forwards: Sergei Demagin, Sergei Drozd, Mikhail Grabovski (C), Alexander Kitarov, Andrei Kostitsyn, Yevgeni Kovyrshin, Alexander Kulakov, Dmitri Meleshko, Andrei Mikhalyov (A), Alexander Pavlovich, Andrei Stas, Andrei Stepanov, Alexei Ugarov.