Olympic replay: USA vs. Switzerland

USA shuts out Swiss

Wednesday, 24.02.2010 / 6:16 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
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Olympic replay: USA vs. Switzerland
February 24, 2010

Kesler

USA 2 SWITZERLAND 0

This is an intriguing matchup because of the familiarity between the teams from having faced each other already once this tournament., a 3-1 US win.

The States may have walked away winners, but the Swiss proved early on they could play with the big boys and they reaffirmed that losing to Canada in a shootout. Switzerland has clawed its way to extra time in its past three games, wining two of them.

For the Swiss to win this game, Jonas Hiller needs to outplay Ryan Miller and Switzerland needs to bring a fast, physical approach to every shift. If the US gets up a goal early and scores three or more, it’s game over.

These teams have met seven times in Olympic play, the US holds a 6-1-0 advantage.

FIRST PERIOD

Ryan Kesler was a thorn in the side of the Swiss that period.

Still skating alongside Dustin Brown and Patrick Kane, Kesler had a few scoring chances and he made life tough for the Swiss without the puck. His best play of the frame was reading Jonas Hiller’s pass off the boards behind the net and intercepting it to set up Zach Parise for a one-timer.

The US dominated in shots 18-4, but it was Switzerland carrying a lot of the early momentum. On one torrid shift by the Swiss’ top line of Hnat Domenichelli, Raffaele Sannitz and Julien Sprunger, Ryan Miller was forced to make three consecutive saves from in close.

Once getting into a groove, the US was as powerful as ever putting a lot of pressure on Switzerland in its own end. Phil Kessel came the closest to scoring when he rang a shot off the iron with four minutes to play.

It’s scoreless after the first, which is a moral victory for the Swiss.

It wasn’t the greatest period for the Americans on the ice or in the stands. US supporters apparently elected to save their money for the semi-finals as there are enough empty seats and not enough American jerseys or flags.

Where’s the pride?

There it is, wearing red and white for Swiss. This underdog story has legs with everyone nudging to the edge of their seat when Switzerland enters the US zone on a rush.

SECOND PERIOD

It’s Hiller time at Canada Hockey Place.

The Anaheim Ducks keeper is air tight through 40 minutes with 32 saves, including 14 in the second period.

It was nearly 13 saves. Hiller got some help from the clock.

With less than a second left in the period, Kesler spun from the corner and threw the puck at the net. Hiller hit it with his stick, the puck flipped up and over his head into the goal. The horn sounded and the Americans cheered, but it was waved off as time had expired .1 seconds before the puck cross the line.

Check out the picture to the right for proof.

The Swiss, fan favourites by the predominantly Canadian crowd, again only came up with four shots.

If Switzerland can get a few more shots and actually sneak one past Miller, this game is going to get very, very, very interesting. The Americans are already showing signs of panic and frustration.

BOO ON YOU

US defenceman Jack Johnson is being booed every time he touches the puck. Why? I had to look that up myself.

The distaste for Johnson stems back to the 2006 World Juniors in Vancouver when Johnson elbowed Canada’s Steve Downie. It was a cheap play that apparently Canadians are not willing to forgive.

STATS MAN

Remember in pee wee when players had to help keep stats when they were on the bench? Things haven’t changed for Swiss backup goalie Tobias Stephan.

He’s a mask away from going into the game and a some students away from teaching a class. With red pen and yellow notepad in hand, Stephan is tracking shots on goal for the Americans, from what I can tell.

THIRD PERIOD

The Americans finally solved Hiller 2:08 into the third with a power play goal.

Brian Rafalski’s wrist shot from the point bounced around before Parise got a stick on it to tip it towards Hiller. The Swiss goalie misplayed the puck and he couldn’t get his pad over to hug the post and keep it out.

A few shifts later the US and Switzerland appeared to trade goals. First Sandy Jeannin out waited Miller and ripped a shot inside the right post. The ref immediately waved no goal and the play continued the other way.

On the ensuing rush, the Americans thought they had doubled their lead as a point shot beat Hiller, but Kesler was called for high-sticking in front to negate the goal.

That stoppage allowed the refs to go upstairs and look at the alleged Swiss no goal, which was actually off the post and out. The puck never crossed the line.

After all the madness and confusion, USA still led 1-0.

Play tightened after back-to-back no goals with both goalies holding down the fort.

Hiller finished with 42 saves and although he had more stops to Miller’s 19, the American keeper kept every puck out for the 2-0 shutout win.

Parise added an empty net goal late to seal the victory.

USA will face the winner of Finland/Czech Republic in the semi-finals Friday.