Home » Swiss Rally for First Win
Global News News Sports

Swiss Rally for First Win

Switzerland extended their Women’s World Championship winning streak against Japan to 10 games with a 4-3 victory, clinching their first win in Brampton.

While the top two spots in Group A will go to Canada and the United States (exact order to be determined tonight), Switzerland’s final two preliminary round games, this match-up with Japan and tomorrow’s with Czechia, will determine third to fifth.

Switzerland took control of the game for the first five minutes, with a Rahel Enzler shot that rung off the crossbar, but Japan took the lead as soon as they were able to control the puck in Switzerland’s end, scoring on their second shot of the game. Haruka Toko spotted Remi Koyama on Andrea Braendli’s far post, sending the puck across the ice for Koyama to bang into the net .

“Stick to our game, use our strength, speed and fitness,” Chihiro Suzuki said before puck drop about what it would take to beat Switzerland. “Forecheck like crazy, backcheck like crazy, and see where it goes.”

Japan’s second tally was a highlight reel-worthy power play goal. Braendli stopped a shot from Rui Ukita, but Makoto Iko picked up the rebound and made a no-look pass behind herself to Yoshino Enomoto, who crashed the net to score over a sprawling Braendli.

“It was very good momentum for us,” Toko said of Japan’s 2-0 lead. “But after that in the middle, Switzerland scored and we could not take back the momentum, and we really regret that.”

During a second Switzerland penalty, Alina Muller had a good shorthanded scoring opportunity, but the Swiss wouldn’t get on the board until a power play of their own in the second period. Defender Lara Christen faked a one-timer before skating further into the slot for a wrist shot. The puck bounced off Japanese goalie Riko Kawaguchi’s blocker and into the net.

“It’s always a pleasure to score for Switzerland,” said Christen. “It doesn’t matter if it’s defence or forwards who score, just a Swiss has to score. It was a lot of traffic in front of the net and I felt I should shoot and luckily it went in. It was very important to finally score a goal and I think the momentum came back on our side.”

A mere 21 seconds later, another Swiss defender scored, with Nicole Vallario skating the puck in wide and ripping it top shelf to tie the game.

“We’re used to how they play,” said Muller. “They always very disciplined. They play hard for 60 minutes, play their system. We needed to score off the rush, because in their zone they pack in front of the net and it’s hard to get pucks on goal.”

The Shiga sisters combined to regain Japan’s lead. Akane Shiga passed along the blue line to Aoi Shiga, whose shot hit the crossbar, then bounced off Braendli’s back and into the net.

Switzerland rallied hard in the final minutes of the second period. Lena Marie Lutz drew a penalty on Ayaka Hitosato, parting Japan’s defence for a breakaway and getting tangled up with Hitosato before she could get a shot off, but Japan’s penalty kill was solid. There was a mad scramble and a flurry of shots as the seconds counted down, but the buzzer sounded before the Swiss could net a tying goal.

Muller scored the equalizer eight minutes into the third period, sniping a wrist shot past Kawaguchi. She helped Switzerland to their first lead of the game (and their first lead of the tournament) a few minutes later, with Lara Stalder tipping in a Muller shot. 

“We played games against USA and Canada, so we weren’t used to playing with the puck, so we had to change our mindset,” said Muller. “Sometimes we threw the puck away too quickly, but as the game went on we realized we had a little more time to make plays. But we had too many turnovers all game long. What we showed today will not be enough tomorrow.”

Alina Marti nearly increased Switzerland’s lead further, with yet another shot pinging off the crossbar. Japan pulled Kawaguchi for the extra attacker and a wild final minute ensued, with Japan’s defence blocking two shots aimed at their empty net before racing down the ice on the counterattack. The Swiss managed to clear their zone however, taking the win 4-3. 

“Even though there was a risk, we needed to score, we really deserved to score,” said Toko. “We couldn’t score, but we could defend against Switzerland in the last minutes. From quarter-finals onwards, we need to score as well as defend.”

Source : IIHF