International Ice Hockey Federation

Huge win for Switzerland

Huge win for Switzerland

U18 hosts put it all together in upset over Russia

Published 24.04.2015 14:28 GMT+2 | Author Adam Steiss
Huge win for Switzerland
ZUG, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 23: Switzerland's August Impose #11 celebrates with Serge Weber #7 and Damien Riat #9 after giving his team a 3-0 lead over Russia during quarterfinal round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Playoff time is when teams step up and show what they're made of, and on Thursday night in Zug the Swiss U18 national team did just that.

What should have been an easy quarter-final win for Russia was instead a massive victory for Switzerland, which flipped the script and posted one of the biggest upsets in U18 World CHampionship history with a dominant 5-0 victory.

The victory is Switzerland’s first over Russian at the U18s since the inaugural tournament back in 1999.

"The team came together tonight and worked as a family, the guys were very comfortable today and played their game," said head coach Manuele Celio. 

It was the first meeting between the Swiss and Russian U18 teams since 2012, Russia having won seven of the eight matchups between the two countries. Going into the game, Russia had been undefeated at the 2015 U18 Worlds and was up to then a big favourite to earn a medal.

Switzerland, which has had a decidedly underwhelming performance at the U18 so far, scored first when an ill-advised clearing attempt from behind the net by a Russian defencemen saw the puck hit Sandro Forrer in front of the net. It landed in front of the Swiss forward’s stick, and all Forrer had to do was tap it in to put the Swiss up 1-0 just under eight minutes into the first period.

The goal gave Switzerland a boost through the rest of the period and into the second, and Russian goaltender Ilya Samsonov had to fend off a number of quality scoring chances from the tournament hosts, while at the other end the Swiss blueliners locked in on the Russian attackers and kept them from putting pressure on Joren van Pottelberghe.

"We tried to force the Russians to play in their one zone as much as possible, it's an area where we felt they wouldn't be omforatble playing and woudl get frustrated," said Celio.

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Then the Swiss broke through again, thanks to talented forward Auguste Impose of Geneve-Servette HC. The 17-year-old has been a steady presence around the opposing net throughout the entire preliminary round but failed to register a point. Nevertheless Impose made his first goal of the tournament a big one, scoring on a one-timer with the assist from Damien Riat to give his country the 2-0 lead.

"I think in the preliminary round we played nervously, and going into the game today we realized the chance we had in front of us," said Impose.

Impose struck again with 20 seconds left in the second period, scoring at the end of a three-on-one rush to make it 3-0 and send the home crowd in Zug’s Bossard arena into a frenzy.

"It felt really good to finally get some pucks in the net," said Impose. "It was the result of great teamwork from my linemates. I hope we can keep this up all the way through to the end."

Up 3-0 going into the third, team captain Denis Malgin refused to let his team fall apart, scoring his third goal of the tournament with a fantastic individual effort. The Swiss kept the Russians on their heels by constantly attacking the net, and Russia simply couldn’t build any attack of its own to mount a comeback. On yet another odd man rush near the eight-minute mark, Dominik Volejnicek put the game on ice scoring his team’s fifth goal unassisted.

"I think we just played our game today and stopped thinking about other things," said Malgin. "We said to ourselves that we were there to play the game, not to play Russia. During the game there was a lot of excitement on the bench and everyone was playing for each other."

The upset means that Switzerland will advance to the semi-final round for the first time since 2001, when the team finished with a silver medal. They will face Finland, while Canada plays USA in the other semi-final.

Regardless of Saturday's outcome, Switzerland's victory tonight will go down as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the U18 World Championship, and a feather in the cap for head coach Manuele Celio, Denis Malin and the rest of the team, who managed to pull it off in their own backyard.


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