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Russia, Swiss deadlocked after two periods

by Mike G. Morreale

Switzerland and Russia are locked in a 2-2 stalemate after two periods of action in the quartefinal round of the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

The winner of the game will face defending gold-medalist Sweden in the semifinals of the medal round on Thursday at 8 a.m. ET (NHLN-US).

Switzerland pulled into a 2-2 tie 12:37 into the second when Martin Ness scored off an uncontested spin-o-rama to stun those in attendance at Ufa Arena. Samuel Guerra controlled the puck along the right wing half-boards before launching a shot at Andrei Vasilevskiy. Ness, who was standing alone in the slot, neatly controlled the rebound before cleaning up.

Switzerland will begin the third period on a two-man advantage for 45 seconds.

Mikhail Grigorenko scored his first goal of the tournament in the second to give Russia its second lead of the game, 2-1.

Grigorenko, who has been one of the more active forwards on the Russian roster throughout the tournament, scored in his fifth game and 21st shot of the tournament 9:07 into the second. The Buffalo Sabres prospect took an attempted shot by Nikita Kucherov in the left circle before skating through the crease and unleashing a hard backhand that beat Swiss goalie Melvin Nyffeler.

Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has made 22 saves through two periods. Nyffeler was called upon to make several big stops in the second, including a wrap-around attempt by Anton Slepyshev with 5:15 left and Russia working the power play. Grigorenko also hit the goal post moments later on the same power play. Nyffeler has 17 saves after 40 minutes of work.

Switzerland missed a golden opportunity at breaking a 1-1 tie 4:10 into the second when it was given a two-man advantage for a minute with Kirill Dyakov (interference) and Danil Zharkov (holding) in the box.

Christoph Bertschy scored a shorthanded goal midway through the first period Wednesday to give the Swiss a 1-1 tie with favored Russia in the quarterfinals of medal-round competition at Ufa Arena.

Russia opened a 1-0 lead 6:07 into the first when Alexander Khokhlachyov connected for a power-play goal. The Swiss just missed scoring shorthanded at the start of the Russian power-play when lightning-quick Bertschy stole a pass and just missed tucking home a shot into the right-hand corner on Andrei Vailevskiy at the 4:59 mark.

Bertschy made no mistake, however, on his second shorthanded chance at the 10:05 mark of the first when he stole an ill-advised drop pass from Nikita Nesterov in the Russian end and beat Vasilevskiy to square the contest. Nesterov attempted to drop a pass for Nail Yakupov in the high slot, but Bertschy anticipated the play and connected for his third of the tournament.

Switzerland goalie Nyffeler kept the game even with a tremendous pad save while on his back off the stick of Grigorenko with less than one minute remaining in the first.

Russia is playing without the services of 2013 draft-eligible forward Valeri Nichushkin, who is serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit from behind in a 4-1 loss to Canada on Monday.

Switzerland actually finished pool play fourth in scoring with 16 goals, including three from Mike Kunzle. The Swiss only won once in the preliminary round, a 7-2 opening-game victory against Latvia, but picked up single points in shootout losses to Sweden and Finland and an overtime loss to the Czech Republic. Those points were the difference between them and Finland for the last medal-round spot in Group A.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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