Switzerland’s second straight relegation round appearance started strong, taking the 5-1 win over Belarus on Saturday.
Belarus never had beaten Switzerland before at the World Juniors heading into the event, but that didn’t stop them from getting a very good start to the contest. Jonas Siegenthaler took a slashing minor just 30 seconds into the game, allowing the Belarusians to begin the game on the power play. At the two minute mark, Dmitri Buinitski fired a hard blast from the point, crushing the back of the net for the 1-0 lead early on.
That, however, was Belarus’ only goal of the contest. Five minutes after Belarus took the 1-0 lead, Noah Rod beat Ivan Kulbakov with a five-hole goal after rushing to the crease and beating him with the backhander to tie things back up.
After having to kill off a penalty to Ruslan Vasilchuk, who was given two and ten for a head check, it looked like Belarus didn’t have much left in the tank for the second half of the game. Not too long after, Denis Malgin fired the puck over Kulbakov on the breakaway after taking a great pass from Timo Meier. Then, minutes later, Malgin helped set-up a breakaway this time, after giving Damien Riat a stretch pass before beating the Belarusian goalie for the 3-1 lead.
Belarus simply couldn’t do much to bring things back to a tie, instead allowing Switzerland to walk away with the contest. With nine minutes left in the contest, Julien Privet took advantage of a total Belarus defensive breakdown, jamming in a rebound to make it 4-1 Switzerland. Meier would add one of his own with just a minute remaining in the game, capitalizing the big four-goal lead for Switzerland in the first relegation contest.
Belarus will need to have a big game in the second game of the relegation round, as a loss to Switzerland on Sunday would result in the team getting replaced by Latvia in next year’s World Juniors. A win, however, would force a winner-takes-all situation, with the two teams battling it out to stay alive on January 5th before the medal round begins later in the day.
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