Switzerland capitalized on a late goal from Mauro Jörg and solid goaltending from Gilles Senn to hang on to a narrow 4-2 victory over Belarus to open the Slovakia Cup, advancing to the finals and retaining the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
After jumping out to an early lead, being ahead 2-0 early in the second period on the back of goals from Damien Riat and Julian Schmutz, it seemed as if the Eisgenossen were destined to cruise to their second straight blowout over Belarus; however, a pair of quick goals from Pavel Vorobei and Artyom Demkov ended the second period with the score tied 2-2.
But the Swiss were all over the Bisons offensively in the third, peppering goalie Mikhail Karnaukhov with 10 shots (to Belarus’ four), with Jörg eventually breaking the stalemate 11:55 into the frame. A Dave Sutter empty net goal sealed the victory, ensuring the Swiss advance to the finals here in Nitra, while the Belarusians meet the loser of the Slovakia-Russia U23 game tomorrow in the third place game.
With the win, Switzerland retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 16th title, which they first won from Belarus to win the Swiss Challenge back in December. The win, just the second in the Swiss’ reign, improves their record against Belarus to 4-1 all-time, with one of those wins also coming in Slovakia, back at the 2011 World Championships in Košice. The Swiss now advance to the Slovakia Cup finals, to play either hosts Slovakia or the Russian U23 team; if the latter wins, the game will not count as an IHLC match, meaning that Switzerland will advance to the Euro Hockey Challenge in April against France with the title in tow.
01:37 – GOAL – Riat (Zangger)
06:24 – PEN – Guerra, high sticking
13:14 – PEN – Levsha, high sticking
23:50 – GOAL – Schmutz
24:31 – GOAL – Vorobei (Ambrozheichik, Chaika)
27:44 – GOAL – Demkov (Levsha)
30:32 – PEN – Hofmann, high sticking
51:55 – GOAL – Jörg (Albrecht, Zangger)
59:48 – EN GOAL – Sutter
W: Senn (24-26)
L: Karnaukhov (24-27)
SHOTS ON GOAL
8+10+10 = 28
9+13+4 = 26
Goaltenders: Luca Boltshauser, Gilles Senn. Defence: Phil Baltisberger, Michael Fora, Samuel Guerra, Fabian Heldner, Christian Marti (A), Claude Paschoud, Dave Sutter. Forwards: Yannick-Lennart Albrecht, Chris Baltisberger (C), Luca Fazzini, Yannick Herren, Grégory Hofmann (A), Mauro Jörg, Robin Leone, Damien Riat, Julian Schmutz, Sven Senteler, Samuel Walser, Sandro Zangger.
Goaltenders: Mikhail Karnaukhov, Alexander Osipkov. Defence: Kirill Chaika, Roman Dostanko (A), Yegor Ivanov, Artyom Levsha, Nikita Mitskevich, Ilya Sushko, Nikita Ustinenko, Pavel Vorobei. Forwards: Dmitri Ambrozheichik, Yevgeni Astankov, Andrei Belevich, Pavel Boyarchuk, Artyom Demkov, Alexander Kogalev, Stanislav Lopachuk, Maxim Parfeyevets, Yegor Sharangovich, Mikhail Stefanovich (C), Viktor Turkin (A), Ruslan Vasilchuk.