Late Goal by Grabovski Leads Belarus To Surprising Upset

Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images

The Swiss are off to a poor start to the tournament after three games. Following a major loss to Russia, and today’s loss to Belarus, the Swiss are going to need to find something during the rest of the round robin if they are to have any chance of repeating their silver medal performance from last year.

The Swiss had an early chance spoiled by, well, themselves. After a fantastic play by Kevin Fiala’s line, Belarus goaltender Vitali Koval was run into by his own defenseman after getting shoved by a Swiss forward and would stay down for a minute. He would recover just in time for former Montreal Canadiens forward Sergei Kostitsyn to go the other way and beat Colorado Avalanche goaltender Reto Berra with an easy blocker hand short handed marker to open the scoring. It wouldn’t last, however, as Yannick Weber’s dangerous slap shot one timer from the point beat Koval cleanly to tie it up at one apiece only six minutes into the game.

Koval only had three saves after the first eleven minutes but he did a great job tracking shots and moving laterally fluently. At the other end, Berra made an incredible pad save on a one timer to the left of him, coming across just in time to deflect the puck into the corner and keep the game tied. The Swiss looked like the stronger team after the big save by Berra, pelting Koval with shots from every angle in an attempt to get another one past him before the end of the first. That’s exactly what happened, as a rush by Reto Schappi resulted in an undressing of the Belorussian puckstopper to take the 2-1 lead with two minutes to go.

Belarus would get the game tied up again early in the second. After Schappi took a dumb penalty following a great stick place on the line to keep a Kostitsyn shot out, Andrei Stas jammed the puck between Berra’s legs at the other end and scored while doing his best Bobby Orr impression. It would be the only goal of the period, and while Belarus forgot how to play defense, the Swiss were unable to actually do anything with the offense they had to take over the lead.

The third period got intense. Etienne Froidevaux gave Switzerland the 3-2 lead early in the period following a great end to end rush that ended with a snipe over the blocker. With close to ten minutes left, Sergei Kostitsyn got his second goal of the game after beating Berra top shelf with an incredible wrist shot that he had no chance of stopping after a strange bouncing play between Kostitsyn and Mikhail Grabovski. Speaking of Grabovski, the Washington Capitals forward would his team the victory on one of the nicest goals you will see all tournament, deking Berra out of his jock strap and tucking the puck off the back of his leg and in to make it 4-3. The goal would the final one of the game as Belarus managed to take home the surprise upset in front of a home crowd.

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