Nikolaj Ehlers turned in a terrific four-assist performance to lead Denmark to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over a hot Swiss squad to open their Euro Hockey Challenge series, stunning the hometown crowd in La Chaux-de-Fonds and capturing the International Hockey Lineal Championship for the Lions.
The Eisgenossen, atop the leaderboard of the Euro Hockey Challenge, opened the game with a quick Fabrice Herzog strike, but the Lions quickly countered with a Patrick Russell power play tally less than a minute later. However, the Swiss took full advantage of a pair of penalties to Julian Jacobsen and Markus Lauridsen just 34 seconds apart, striking twice on the man advantage with goals from both Damien Brunner and captain Andres Ambühl, taking the momentum and a 3-1 lead into intermission.
The second period saw more rough play dominate, with eight penalties (four aside) dished out. The Danes managed to pull even in the second, with Morten Poulsen notching the 3-2 goal midway through the period and Emil Kristensen tying the game at 16:19 of the second, but the Danes’ final penalty of the period proved costly once again, with Denis Hollenstein retaking the lead for Switzerland with a power play goal just 2:17 after Denmark tied the game.
Both teams managed to keep a clean sheet in the third, playing a very defensive-minded game to maintain a one-goal game, with both Leonardo Genoni and Sebastian Dahm solid in their respective nets. Denmark tied things up 7:41 into the third on a Lauridsen goal, giving Ehlers his third assist of the game. And with the game seemingly destined for overtime, the Lions stunned the Swiss on a strike from Peter Regin with just 101 seconds remaining in regulation, once again with a helper from Ehlers. Despite pulling Genoni and a late penalty to Jesper Jensen, giving Switzerland a 6-on-4 advantage, Dahm stood tall and gave Denmark the surprising victory.
With the win, Denmark captures just their third International Hockey Lineal Championship in history, and their first since the 2014 World Championships, moving up in the all-time IHLC rankings from #16 to #14, leapfrogging Belgium and Kazakhstan. This marks the third IHLC meeting in history between this two, is Denmark’s first ever victory against Switzerland, and marks the first meeting between them since the 2013 World Championships. These two will meet again in two days’ time in Basel, with the winner gaining a clear path to taking the IHLC to the 2017 World Championships.
03:37 – PEN – Praplan, tripping
07:24 – GOAL – Herzog (Brunner)
07:49 – PEN – Almond, tripping
08:18 – PP GOAL – Russell (Hardt, Ehlers)
14:11 – PEN – Jacobsen, holding
14:45 – PEN – Lauridsen, slashing / unsportsmanlike conduct double minor
15:12 – PP2 GOAL – Brunner (Ambühl, Almond)
16:36 – PP GOAL – Ambühl (Brunner, Malgin)
20:23 – PEN – Almond, roughing
20:23 – PEN – J. Jensen, roughing
22:25 – PEN – Brunner, interference
24:06 – PEN – J. Jensen, roughing
27:46 – GOAL – Poulsen (Meyer, J. Jensen)
30:37 – PEN – N. Jensen, hooking
33:09 – PEN – Malgin, boarding
33:47 – PEN – Almond, slashing
36:19 – GOAL – Kristensen (Ehlers, Regin)
37:03 – PEN – Lassen, interference
38:36 – PP GOAL – Hollenstein (Loeffel, Romy)
47:41 – GOAL – Lauridsen (Ehlers)
58:19 – GOAL – Regin (J. Jensen, Ehlers)
58:39 – PEN – J. Jensen, tripping
W: Dahm (28-32)
L: Genoni (24-29)
SHOTS ON GOAL
8+10+11 = 29
9+13+10 = 32
Goaltenders: Sebastian Dahm, George Sørensen. Defence: Phillip Bruggisser, Jesper Jensen, Nicolas B. Jensen, Emil Kristensen, Matias Lassen, Markus Lauridsen, Oliver Lauridsen, Nicolai Weichel. Forwards: Mads Christensen, Nikolaj Ehlers, Morten Green (C), Nichlas Hardt, Julian Jacobsen, Steffen Klarskov Nielsen, Morten Madsen, Nicolai Meyer, Morten Poulsen, Peter Regin, Patrick Russell, Frederik Storm.
Goaltenders: Leonardo Genoni, Niklas Schlegel. Defence: Raphael Díaz (C), Joël Genazzi, Dean Kukan, Romain Loeffel, Christian Marti, Claude-Curdin Paschoud, Dominik Schlumpf, Dave Sutter. Forwards: Cody Almond, Andres Ambühl, Chris Baltisberger, Damien Brunner, Gaëtan Haas, Fabrice Herzog, Denis Hollenstein, Denis Malgin, Vincent Praplan, Kevin Romy, Reto Suri, Pius Suter.