Two quick goals by the Americans in the second allowed the pre-game favourites to take down Switzerland, winning the game 3-1 to earn a spot in the semi-finals.
With both teams being more defensive minded, a high scoring game wasn’t to be expected. For Switzerland, their back end has always been their biggest asset, with their best players being Roman Josi and Mark Streit. Their shutdown nature was in full force early on, with the Swiss forcing the Americans to make too many passes in the offensive zone that would go unsuccessful.
Eventually, on Switzerland’s four shot of the night with seven minutes to go, the team in white would the back of the net. Josi is a supreme two-way talent at this tournament, and he proved it by picking the puck up from his own zone, rushing through the neutral zone before making Jake Gardiner look silly with the deke and rushing in to beat Seth Jones before getting it past Connor Hellebuyck in the American net.
At the other end of the ice, the Americans had a few solid shots stopped by Reto Berra. First, Anders Lee’s wrist shot would get stopped by Berra’s stick, only to have him get to the side of the net quick enough to keep a chance by Jones out. For Berra, the threat of having no NHL job next year gave him more of a reason to stand tall, battling back from a weak 7-2 performance against Canada to rebound with good outings against the Czech Republic and USA.
With about ten minutes to go in the second, the Americans finally found a way to beat Berra. Switzerland’s defense seemed to struggle during the second, allowing the Americans to take a distinct advantage in the offensive zone. Ben Smith would tie the game up at one after some passing by Mark Arcobello and Jimmy Vesey around the net saw the puck find its way to Smith, who knocked it in from the slot for the 1-1 goal.
Less than a minute later, the Americans would take the 2-1 lead. This time, Jones would get a pass from Anders Lee from the high slot, taking a hard shot on net that Charlie Coyle would tip in for the quick 2-1 lead.
The Americans would get a power-play goal from an unlikely source in the third period. With under 10 minutes to go, Gardiner’s point shot would beat a screened Berra to give the Americans the 3-1 advantage heading into the final stretch of play. For Gardiner, the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman was a scratch in the final preliminary round of the game, often getting outplayed by most of his American defensive counterparts. The goal proved to be the final one for the Americans, who would on for the 3-1 victory and compete for a chance at a medal.
With the win, the Americans will have to wait until later in the afternoon for a result between Sweden and Russia. The winner of that game will face the Americans on Saturday afternoon, with the winner going off to the finals on Sunday, and the loser playing the bronze medal game earlier in the day.
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