Switzerland began the best-of-three relegation round series against Germany with a strong effort on Friday, taking the easy 5-2 victory thanks to two goals from Noah Rod.
It didn’t take the favoured Swiss long to get one past Kevin Reich. Just 3:50 in, Kevin Fiala, a first round selection by the Nashville Predators in 2014, scored on an open cage after Noah Rod’s wrist shot in front went off the right pad of Reich and straight onto the stick of Fiala, who made it 1-0 for the boys in red.
Just like in the game against the Canadians earlier in the tournament, Reich stood tall. The USHL goaltender was faced with a lot of good scoring opportunities early on, including a big sprawling save on Fiala’s 2-on-1 chance.
One of the top NHL Draft prospects all tournament has been Timo Meier from the Swiss. While he didn’t get many scoring chances during the first half, he did make some great plays while shorthanded and continued to prove that he was one of the better players in the tournament in all three zones of the ice. One play in particular saw him head down from the defensive zone and get a shot on net on an odd-man rush while shorthanded, only to have Reich make a big blocker save to keep the game at 1-0.
56 seconds into the second, Rod managed to score a goal of his own. After the Germans failed to put much pressure on the Swiss offense, Denis Malgin made a nice play from the face-off circle to the right of Reich, only to have Rod tip it in top corner for the easy goal.
Four minutes after Rod made it 2-0, Luca Fazzini jumped on a drop pass from Luca Hischier and fired it past Reich top corner from the slot to make it 3-0. Germany failed to show any sort of pressure against the Germans, and despite outshooting Switzerland 13-11 at the time of the third goal, they may have had just two decent scoring chances by that time.
That changed with 11:40 still left in the period. Parker Tuomie made it 3-1 after skating out from the right corner uncontested before stuffing it five-hole past Gauthier Descloux.
After multiple highlight reel saves against Canada, Reich made one that could potentially be the best of the tournament. Fiala had many good scoring chances during the game, but his best chance of the second was completely stoned after Reich somehow got his stick in the way at the last second.
Despite that, Switzerland made it 4-1 after a nice shot by Hischier was left by the Germans in front of the net, putting the game away with over a period of play still to go untouched.
Reich made some good saves, but the Germans elected to go with Ilya Sharipov for the third period. The move was a little puzzling at first, but after making a huge pad save on the breakaway on Pius Suter, it looked like he was ready to play.
At 14:14 in the third, the Swiss found a way to make it 5-1. Once again, Rod managed to get a good wrist shot from the left faceoff, beating Sharipov cleanly over the glove for the nice goal.
The Germans had a few good scoring chances of their own, but it wasn’t until the game had just five minutes left until the team managed to score their second of the game. Patrick Kurz, a defenseman who had a fairly quiet game, took a blast from the point and beat a screened Descloux for the goal. A comeback attempt was non-existent for the Germans, however, who would lose 5-2 at the final buzzer.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday for the only World Junior event of the day at 7pm EST at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. A victory by Switzerland would secure a spot in the 2016 World Juniors, while a loss to Germany would result in them being relegated.
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