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Niederreiter scores OT winner as Switzerland upsets Russia at WJC @NHLdotcom

SASKATOON - It all came together for Switzerland at the right time.

Despite losing their first two games at the world junior championship and two key defencemen to injury, the Swiss somehow managed to upend the favoured Russians 3-2 in overtime Saturday to advance to the semifinals.

"We know we don't have a big country as far as hockey is concerned, and everybody can think whatever they want," said Swiss goaltender Benjamin Conz, who continued his impressive run at the tournament with 50 saves.

"Sometimes people take us too lightly, like they did today against the Russians, and you see what kind of things can happen."

Switzerland's best finish in the tournament came in 1998 when they finished bronze.

Switzerland (3-2) will now meet host Canada in the semifinals Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Russians (3-2) will face the loser of Saturday's other quarter-final between the United States and Finland on Tuesday in the fifth-place game.

Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter cut across the hash-marks at 9:47 into overtime and fired a shot past Russian goaltender Igor Bobkov for his second goal of the game. The puck appeared to be deflected in by defenceman Patrick Geering, but the goal was officially credited to Niederreiter.

When the Saskatoon crowd went crazy, Geering hadn't even seen the puck cross the goal-line.

"I tried to deflect it," said Geering. "I just heard the whole stadium start cheering."

Added Niederreiter: "I don't know what to say - it's just amazing."

The Swiss were without injured defencemen Luca Sbisa and Roman Josi.

Sbisa is lost for the rest of the tournament, while Josi's status is uncertain. Both were named to the Swiss Olympic national team on Wednesday.

If Conz continues his stellar play, it won't matter who skates for Switzerland. He followed up his impressive performance from the round robin with another gem Saturday.

"Since the start of the tournament I've taken over 30 shots a game," said Conz. "I'm going to take a good massage tonight and have a good night's sleep and tomorrow try and be ready."

For the Russians, the overtime goal punctuates a disappointing performance at this year's tournament.

"It was a big mistake by the defence," said head coach Vladimir Plyushchev. "It was an elementary task that normally the player would do. Maybe his intensity level was high and he didn't look."

Said Russian star forward Nikita Filatov: "We should we have won this game way earlier in the first period."

Russia appeared poised to clinch a 2-1 victory late in the third before Niederreiter scored with 33 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

Michael Loichat gave the Swiss 1-0 lead in the second period after he stripped a Russian defender of the puck behind the net and beat Bobkov on a wraparound at 8:25.

But the Russians answered before the period was out to take a 2-1 lead to the third. Vladimir Tarasenko beat Conz at 18:44 before Kirill Petrov knocked home a feed from Filatov just 16 seconds later.

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