International Ice Hockey Federation

Swiss eke out key win

Defence, Muller guide 2-0 win over Finland

Published 09.01.2016 15:23 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Swiss eke out key win
ST. CATHARINES, CANADA - JANUARY 09: Switzerland's Kaleigh Quennec #18 scores on Finland's Johanna Oksman #1 during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Kaleigh Quennec’s goal at 15:42 of the second period broke a scoreless tie and carried Switzerland to a key victory over Finland in Group B action.

The win puts the Swiss in the driver’s seat for a spot in the quarter-finals. If they beat France on Monday, they’re in; if they lose, their fate is out of their hands.

Vanessa Bollinger made 19 saves for the shutout in a game that featured only 36 total shots, one more than the WW18 record for fewest shots in a game. The game also featured great penalty killing by the Swiss. They were assessed six of the game's seven penalties, but time and again they kept the Finns at bay.

"We were lucky not to be behind in the first period, but then we stared to play better as a team and played better defensively," Swiss star Alina Muller noted. "Our goalie played really well. Yesterday [5-1 loss to Sweden] we didn’t have any luck, but today we maybe had a bit more than Finland."

The Finns must now face Sweden on Monday under more dire circumstances if they’re to avoid the Relegation Round.

"We tried to be too pretty and cute with the puck on the power play," admitted Jenniina Nylund. "We should have just put pucks on the net. We have to forget about this game and focus on Sweden. We have to have a better start than we did today."

The win today marked the third in a row for the Swiss over Finland in WW18 competition, going back to 2012. Indeed, last year it was merely goals differential that sent Finland to the playoffs and the Swiss to relegation, but the Swiss have 12 returning players and are clearly better than last year.

They were unlucky not to open the scoring in the first period. Alina Muller had a clear breakaway short-handed, but her deke was nicely stopped by Johanna Oksman in the Finnish goal.

Quennec’s goal was the result of two great plays from Rahel Enzler. Coning down the left side, she barrelled through two defenders before sliding the puck to Quennec in the slot. Quennec merely redirected the puck past Oksman.

Finland had a great chance to tie the game later in the period, drawing two quick penalties and working with a 5-on-3 for 35 seconds. But the Swiss penalty killing was flawless and the Finns failed to capitalize.

The Swiss got an insurance goal thanks to a great rush by Muller. She flew down the right wing and the lfet-handed shot fired a great wrister under the blocker of Oksman to make it 2-0 at 13:37. 

"I didn’t score in the first period, so I was mad at myself," she said. "I had good speed on the goal, but I’ve had a lot of good chances. This time I managed to score."

Last year the Swiss beat Finland by the same 2-0 score but ended up in the Relegation Round. "We were unlucky last year," Muller recalled. "Now, we hope Finland beats Sweden and we beat France. Then we can reach the quarter-finals. We’re excited."

"We have to play with speed," Muller added. "We have to prepare as we would against Canada and Finland and not think they lost 11-1 to Finland."