In probably the craziest game of the entire tournament, Geneve-Servette was able to defeat Canada 6-5 despite almost blowing a five goal lead and will play in the Spengler Cup championships on New Years Eve.
Geneve-Servette snagged the 1-0 lead at the 8:10 mark of the first. Inti Pestoni, one of GSHC’s reinforcements at the Spengler, took a shot that was originally stopped by Drew MacIntyre, but his glove tipped the puck into the corner. Pestoni picked it back up, and after skating past two stand-still Canadian defenders, Pestoni beat MacIntyre, who at first didn’t know where the puck was, just under the pad to take the early one goal advantage.
As expected, the 2013 Spengler Cup champions Geneve-Servette came out of the gates hard. They were consistently sending more puck MacIntyre’s way throughout the first period, hoping to break who was perhaps the best player for Canada. Luckily for GSHC, Janick Schwendener wasn’t ready to let Canada take advantage at the other end. The young goaltender, who has been in net ever since Christophe Bays went down with a concussion during the first period, and played probably his best period in the first against Canada, making six good saves without giving his opponents much opportunity to break his shutout.
Geneve-Servette finished the first period with the 2-0 lead. Matthew Lombardi, who’s performance at the Spengler this year has proved to be less effective from when he was the MVP last year, drove the net late in the first but was stopped by MacIntyre. However, Tom Pyatt was right there to bat the puck out of the air, scoring a nice chop goal to make it 2-0 for the Swiss club.
Things went from bad to horrible very quickly in the second. First, Romain Loeffel took a blast from the point, beating a screened MacIntyre cleanly for the 3-0 goal. Twenty seconds later, Francis Bouillon took a weak shot from far out, a shot that most goalies should have no issue with. However, MacIntyre was expecting the puck to go off the boards, and without looking at the shot, the puck went straight through his legs and in for the easy goal.
If the nightmare needed to get any worse, GSHC had a 5-0 lead at the halfway point. Canada had a power-play, their second one of the game, but Timothy Kast was still able to break in and beat Nolan Schaefer with a quick wrist shot, scoring early on the replacement for MacIntyre.
Canada did eventually get one of their own less then 25 seconds later. This time, Micki Dupont sent the puck over to Marc-Antoine Pouliot, who skated around uncontested around the net before finding a small hole left open by Schwendener to end the shutout and make it 5-1.
A bit of momentum found Canada cut the deficit to three goals with four minutes to go in the second. Ryan Parent, who had been fairly invisible throughout the tournament, shot an absolute cannon from the point, a shot nobody on Geneve-Servette had any interest in getting in front of.
A Canadian comeback looked like a real possibility late in the second. This time, Jerome Samson, a healthy scratch in Canada’s game against Jokerit yesterday, picked up the puck in front of the net and turned a Pouliot rebound into the 5-3 goal for Canada.
Canada got even more life in the early part of the third. A quick shot by Alex Giroux was too much for Schwendener, who was screened by Mike Hedden in front to put Canada within a goal on the power-play. The excitement didn’t last for long, however, as Loeffel scored an identical goal to what he had in the second period, restoring GSHC’s two goal lead.
With ten minutes to go, Pouliot, the best player on Team Canada and potentially the whole tournament, converted an Alex Giroux pass into a beautiful goal. to make it 6-5. The goal gave him seven points in the tournament, which will likely be good enough to secure the tournament scoring title unless Anton Slepyshev can score in the finals on Wednesday.
Canada’s chance at a full comeback came at full force. The majority of the third period was stuck in Geneve-Servette’s zone, with the Swiss based team struggling to get puck possession. When they did, they always seemed to be outnumbered due to the team being tired from all the running around in their own zone. Canada looked to have a chance to tie the game up with 35 seconds remaining in the game, but a penalty at the end of the game ended their chances at grabbing the victory. With Canada setting up for a face-off, the refs called the team on having too-many-men on the ice, despite having seven players while the play was’nt even on. As a result, Canada found themselves back in their own zone and was unable to do anything when the play resumed, dropping the game 6-5 in a thrilling contest with Geneve-Servette.
Thanks to the exciting victory, Geneve-Servette will face Salavat Yulaev Ufa on Wednesday at 6am EST in hopes of winning their second straight Spengler Cup. The last time a Swiss team was able to do that was back in the early 2000’s, when Davos won the 2000 and 2001 tournament championships.
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