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Swiss upset Russians 3-2 in OT at WJC

by Adam Kimelman

"It's really a surprise.  A good goal was to reach the quarterfinals, and now to beat the Russians? It's not every year it happens. It's a great tourney for us."
-- Swiss coach Jacob Kolliker

SASKATOON, Sask. -- In the upset of the tournament, Switzerland's Nino Niederreiter scored his second goal of the game in the final seconds of overtime to lead Switzerland to a shocking 3-2 victory over Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Junior Championship.
The win puts the Swiss into Sunday's semifinals against host Canada (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
Niederreiter whipped a wrist shot from above the circles past Russia goalie Igor Bobkov with 34 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at 2-2. With 14 seconds left in overtime, Niederreiter made a tremendous individual effort to maintain control of the puck. Twisting and turning through the Russia zone, he fired a shot that went through traffic and behind Bobkov to set off a wild celebration.
"It was just amazing," said Niederreiter, who was serenaded with "Nino, Nino" chants from the Credit Union Centre crowd. "Now we're in the semifinal. Don't know what to say."
Niederreiter, who plays in the Western Hockey League with the Portland Winter Hawks, was ranked sixth among WHL skaters by NHL Central Scouting in its preliminary rankings for the 2010 Entry Draft. He leads the team and is tied for the tournament lead with 5 goals.
Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz stopped 50 of 52 shots to continue his strong play in the tournament.
"He loves competition," Swiss coach Jakob Kolliker said of his netminder. "Especially the high level, He can go a step higher, and that's the key for him."

Not only was Switzerland able to pull off the shocker, they did it without their two top defensemen, Luca Sbisa and Roman Josi, who missed the game due to injuries. Both are questionable for tonight's game.

"We're fighting for those two guys," Niederreiter said. 

Switzerland scored the game's first goal at 8:25 of the second period when Michael Loichat took advantage of a Russia turnover behind its net. Conz made the lead stand up through most of the second, including a dazzling glove save on Russia captain Nikita Filatov on a breakaway midway through the period.
Russia finally solved Conz with a pair of goals 16 seconds apart late in the period, first by Vladimir Tarasenko off a blind, backhand pass by Maxim Kitsyn, and then seconds later when Kirill Petrov one-timed a Filatov pass.
"It was a hit on the head for the team," Kolliker said.
But the Swiss stayed composed, and Niederreiter turned in his heroics to seal the biggest win in Swiss junior hockey history.
"It's really a surprise," Kolliker said. "A good goal was to reach the quarterfinals, and now to beat the Russians? It's not every year it happens. It's a great tourney for us."
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