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Team USA, Swiss Head Into Round 2

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

The United States lost to Sweden in overtime on Wednesday by a score of 6-5 at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship. Islanders forward Kyle Okposo did not figure in the scoring.

Team USA—which finished the preliminary round with a 2-0-1 record—will next play on Friday against France in the Qualifying Round.

Islanders defenseman Mark Streit and Switzerland will play Latvia on Thursday in the Qualifying Round, after dropping a 4-2 decision to Russia on Tuesday. The host Swiss, who finished the preliminary round with a 2-1-0 record.

On Monday, the United States defeated Austria, 6-1.

"We're getting better every period," said Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon, who is serving as an assistant coach for Team USA. "Kyle's had some pretty good scoring opportunities and is playing well."

Mark Streit (7) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the game-winning goal in OT against Germany.
On Sunday, Islanders defenseman and Streit—who is captain of the Swiss team—scored on the power play at 1:18 of overtime to give Switzerland a 3-2 victory over Germany.

Taking a pass from Martin Plüss, Streit blasted a slapshot past German goalie Dimitri Patzold high on the glove side and sent the red sea of Swiss fans into a frenzy. The goal came 37 seconds into the man advantage, with German defenseman Michael Bakos off for holding.

"Mark came through for the team as he has in both games," Swiss Head Coach Ralph Krueger told The Associated Press. "His offensive play along with his defensive play is very courageous."

For his part, Streit was just happy his team got its second victory of the competition.

"It was an ugly win but it was a win, and that's all that matters," Streit said. "There was a lot of pressure and expectations are high."

Streit now has one goal and one assist in Switzerland’s two tournament victories.

On Satuday, Okposo earned assisted on Team USA's first goal of the game, as the U.S. went on to defeat Latvia, 4-2.

Jack Johnson of the Los Angeles Kings scored two goals in the contest to lead Team USA.

Prior to Team USA's victory, Gordon was pleased at how the team was coming together.

“We’ve just added a few more players and now finally have our full team,” Gordon said. “The guys have been coming together on the ice and getting to know each other off of it. There is nothing drastically different in the way we are playing here compared to the way we play in the NHL.”

Gordon handled the defense from the bench in the United States' exhibition game and has been working with the team during the practices.

“Ron’s been great about allowing input during drills,” Gordon said. “He’s been delegating the coaching duties.”

In Team USA’s exhibition loss to Streit and the Swiss on April 21st, Gordon had the opportunity to see his defenseman score a goal and add an assist to lead his team to victory. When asked if he took any joy in Streit’s performance, Gordon was quick to answer:

“No joy at all,” he joked.

One of the strangest things that’s happened to Gordon since he’s been in Switzerland occurred during a practice this week—while the team was preparing to face Latvia. Gordon noticed someone playing for Latvia who looked familiar to him. It turns out it was Aigars Cipruss, who Gordon had coached with the Atlanta Knights in 1994.

“I hadn’t seen him in 12-13 years,” Gordon said. “I got a chance to talk to him and it was really nice. You coach so many guys along the way, then you see familiar face you don’t expect to see. It was pretty funny.”

On April 24th, Streit and Switzerland won their opening game, defeating France 1-0.

The game's only score came when Plüss took a pass from Streit in the first period, and sent a wrist shot from the point past France's Fabrice Lhenry in front of 11,417 fans in Berne.

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