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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 3:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss safe after win over Denmark

CALGARY -- The Swiss are safe.

After edging Denmark 4-3 in overtime at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday, Switzerland has avoided relegation and can finish no lower than eighth at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

After winning a faceoff in Denmark's end, Tanner Richard buried a rebound off of Dario Trutmann's shot from the point behind Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk with just 1:33 remaining in the extra period to lift Switzerland to victory, clinching its appearance in the 2013 World Juniors in Russia.

"For sure it's a relief," Richard said. "It's a lot of pressure because we're representing our country. It's for the guys next year, too. We have a young team and we all want to be in the A division next year. It's just great for our country."

The overtime loss gives Denmark their first ever points at the tournament. Nicklas Jensen, who had two goals in the losing effort, found little comfort in the fact.

"Obviously it's great to get a point for us," Jensen said. "Right now we're kind of disappointed. I thought we could've won the game in regulation time. We're not too happy with the score. We could've done better."

With a win over the United States on Wednesday, Switzerland will finish seventh. It's a game Richard said his Swiss can get up for.

"For sure, we can," he said. "We were quite disappointed when we blew the game against Slovakia. We wanted to be top-six. Now our goal is to finish seventh."

Cedric Schneuwly, Alessio Bertaggia and Gregory Hofmann also scored for Switzerland. Jensen's pair and a single goal by Oliver Bjorkstrand composed Denmark's offense.

Denmark opened the scoring in the first period when Oliver Bjorkstrand converted a 3-on-1 opportunity just 1:10 into the game.

Schneuwly countered just 35 seconds later for the Swiss, banging in a rebound from Sven Andrighetto's original offering. Switzerland went up 2-1 just two minutes later when Bertaggia beat Feuk over the blocker from the slot.

Denmark tied it before the period was out with the first of Jensen's two goals. On the power play, Jensen's point shot beat Swiss goalie Tim Wolf over the glove.

The teams traded goals in the second, with Jensen answering Hofmann's shorthanded penalty shot goal.

The loss pushes the Danes to the brink of relegation. Denmark would need a Team USA victory over Latvia on Tuesday, coupled by their own win over Latvia on Wednesday, to avoid demotion to Division I.

"We just have to take the positives from this game and our hard work and bring it against Latvia and not think too much about the past," Jensen said.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:10 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Switzerland without Sven for Slovakia

CALGARY -- If Switzerland wants to make it a third consecutive year with a quarterfinal at the World Juniors, they'll be forced to do so without standout Sven Bartschi.

Bartschi, who is suffering from what is being described as a light concussion, will not be back in time for Switzerland's game with Slovakia Saturday. The winner will finish third in Group A and advance to the quarterfinal of the World Junior Championship.

"He won't play tomorrow," coach Manuele Celio said after Switzerland's 5-3 win over Latvia. "If he's going to play he's going to play in the next round."

Manuele admitted Bartschi hasn't been back on the ice since suffering the injury in the first period of Switzerland's 4-3 shootout loss to Sweden Wednesday.

"He was on the bike a little bit," Manuele said. "It's normal procedure. The doctor is going to look at him. Even the Flames' doctor is going to look at him. I'll have some information tonight again after an assessment and we're going to see what's going on in the new year."
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:18 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Switzerland overcomes Latvia's late scare

CALGARY -- Switzerland was expecting a rebound game from Latvia on Friday night after suffering a humiliating 14-0 defeat to the Russians the night before.

But few imaged the late game push Latvia would bestow on Switzerland.

Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, Latvia tied the game before Gaetan Haas and Christian Marti scored 59 seconds apart to lift Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Making matters worse was the absence of standout forward Sven Bartschi due to concussion-like symptoms. In the end, it was no worry for Switzerland after Christoph Bertschy stepped into Bartschi's place, adding 2 goals in the victory.

"I think it was a lucky game for me tonight," Bertschy said. "The most important stat is that we won, and now I look forward to the game tomorrow."

Saturday brings Slovakia in a battle to determine which team advances to the quarterfinal.

"We already talked after the game in the dressing room what's going to be," Swiss coach Manuele Celio said. "We've got to keep up and try to be really ready for 4 o'clock tomorrow."

Victory almost didn't happen after the serious push late from Latvia.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

"We brought them back in the game," Manuele said. "We didn't need to do that. We should have won easily. After 3-3, the guys stayed calm and put the puck on the net. I hope it's good learning for tomorrow."

Latvian coach Eriks Miluns was happy with the way his team responded after the Russian drubbing.

"It was our best game in the tournament," Miluns said through an interpreter. "After last night's loss our boys showed character. Luck was a little bit not on our side but I'm proud the way we battled and came back in the third. Hopefully we get the bounces soon."

Haas' first goal came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.

While Switzerland will look to Slovakia, Latvia has the unenviable task of avoiding relegation for the second time in three years. They'll battle the loser of Switzerland and Slovakia, as well as Denmark and the United States.

"They're both going to be tough games," Miluns said. "All the teams will be battling to stay in the top division. Any team that's going to come from that side, it's going to be a hard game. The main opponent is going to be Denmark for us to stay in the top division."

Zemgus Girgensons agreed that if Latvia is to stave off relegation, it has to come at the expense of Denmark.

"We have to beat them to stay in the top division," he said. "It's our goal."
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:18 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Bartschi-less Swiss tackle Latvia

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Losing Bartschi to concussion-like symptoms earlier in the tournament, Bertschy stepped up against Latvia on Friday night, scoring twice while Gaetan Haas also added a pair -- including the winner -- to pace Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The win moves Switzerland to 1-0-1-1 and into an important date with Slovakia on Saturday to determine who advances to the quarter-final.

The win wasn't without a serious push back from Latvia in the third period.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored just 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Christian Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

Haas’ first came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.


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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:30 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss extend lead in second period

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Switzerland continued to roll over Latvia, extending its lead to two after goals by Bertschy and Gaetan Haas.

Gaetan Haas deflected a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period. Haas coughed the puck up in front of goaltender Tim Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked Wolf backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 10:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss dominating, lead after first

CALGARY -- Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but has just a one-goal lead to show for its efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Kristers Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Christoph Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 7:05 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Vasilevski overshadowed by Kuznetsov's performance

It's not hard to go overlooked when your teammate puts up 9 points in one game.

But that doesn't mean the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevski thus far at the 2012 World Junior Championship has gone unnoticed by his fellow Russians.

Though it was Yevgeni Kuznetsov recording 9 points in Russia's 14-0 rout of Latvia Thursday, the game also marked the second of back-to-back shutouts for Vasilevski.

Vasilevski, who has started two of Russia's three games in the tournament, has yet to allow a goal at the World Juniors, turning aside 70 straight shots en route to a pair of blankings against both Switzerland and Latvia.

The fact that a puck still hasn't gotten by Vasilevski hasn't been lost on his teammates.

"It's good for us," said Alexander Khokhlachev, who has 3 goals and three games for Russia. "When we come here we have some questions about goaltenders but he's played great for us. He's a young guy and he has two games, two shutouts."

Only two goaltenders – Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis (85) and Denmark’s Sebastian Feuk (122) have faced more shots than Vasilevski, who has yet to show a blemish on the scoresheet.

"We kept high hopes for our goalie," Kuznetsov said through a translator. "He's a young guy, so hopefully it'll continue that way."

It hasn't been the quantity of saves from Vasilevski, but the timeliness of his stops that has coach Valeri Bragin beaming about his goaltender.

"It's most important in the moments where you need your goalie to play well and he played well," Bragin said through a translator. "He played good when he needed to play good."

Vasilevski's next test will come against Sweden on New Year's Eve. He will need to be equally as good for Russia with the potential of first place in Group A on the line.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:55 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Kuznetsov turns in dominating performance

The Russians knew their captain was good.

But nine points good?

Yevgeni Kuznetsov, the only returning player from Russia’s gold medal-winning squad last year, came within one point of Peter Forsberg’s all-time tournament record of 10 against Japan at the 1993 World Junior Championship with his performance Thursday night -- much to the awe and delight of his teammates.

“It was like ‘Are you kidding me, what are you doing?” Nail Yakupov said after the game. “He’s amazing, you know? He did everything today. He’s a great player. It’s his second World Juniors and he plays in the KHL. He plays like an NHL player.”

After being held off the scoresheet through the first 20 minutes by Latvia, Kuznetsov exploded, recording points on six straight Russian goals before adding three more points – including his hat trick goal -- in the third period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:46 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Grigorenko injured in Russian rout

Though Russia handed Latvia a lopsided 14-0 defeat Thursday night, the reigning world champions may have suffered a big loss.

Early in the second period, forward Mikhail Grigorenko collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija at the Russian blue line, sending the 2012 draft-eligible prospect to the ice in pain. Grigorenko did not return to the game and his status for the tournament is in doubt.

"There was an injury around the ankle," Russia coach Valeri Bragin said through a translator after the game. "We don't know about it right now. We'll see tomorrow morning."

When asked if Grigorenko could be lost for the duration of the World Juniors, Bragin confirmed.

"It's possible."

Grigorenko has two goals and four points in three games for the undefeated Russians.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 4:25 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden's Friberg channels 'Tiger' for goal celebration

Tiger Williams was the first.
 
Max Friberg has now become the latest.
 
The Swedish sensation revived the scoring celebration of the former NHL enforcer, taking to riding his stick in Williams-esque fashion after scoring what looked like the game clincher in the shootout in a 4-3 victory over Switzerland Wednesday night in Calgary.
 
“It was just something that came up in my mind,” Friberg said. “It was nothing against the other team. I was very impressed by their game. I was just happy and I had no teammates to celebrate, so I had to do something.”
 
Switzerland responded with a shootout goal of its own before Sebastian Collberg iced the game for Sweden.
 
Friberg admitted the idea for the celebration, which drew a chorus of boos from the crowd, came from time spent on the Internet.
 
“I watch a lot of video clips on YouTube so I’d seen it a couple times,” Friberg said. “I thought they would like it but they booed instead.”
 
Though he never saw Friberg’s post-goal performance, Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg defended his player’s actions.
 
“I didn’t see it actually,” Ronnberg said. “I heard they were booing, I thought it was because they missed the shot. He’s a humble kid. I don’t think he did it to humiliate somebody or offend somebody.”

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