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Switzerland looks to extend surprising Olympic run, meets Germany

NHL.com @NHL

Switzerland's hockey team was an afterthought heading into the Olympics. That's not the case anymore.

Switzerland will try to build off another stunning upset when it faces Germany Sunday in a preliminary-round matchup.

The Swiss were calling their 3-2 victory over the world champion Czech Republic on Thursday the biggest upset in the country's history. But on Saturday, they pulled off an even bigger one by shocking defending Olympic champion Canada 2-0.

Before Saturday's game, many of Switzerland's players thought a victory over Canada - a virtual NHL All-Star team - was out of the question.

"Are you crazy, man? With the players they have, it would be impossible," Swiss forward Flavien Conne said.

But Paul DiPietro, who was added to the Swiss team only two months ago, scored twice and goalie Martin Gerber made 49 saves to lead Switzerland to the improbable win.

"We had another unbelievable game, actually a perfect game, and we needed that to beat the Canadian team," said Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mark Streit, Switzerland's only NHL skater.

DiPietro, who was born in Canada, played on Montreal's 1993 Stanley Cup team. But he hasn't played in the NHL since the 1996-97 season, when he scored one goal in six games for the Los Angeles Kings.

"It was a great day for Paul DiPietro," said Swiss coach Ralph Krueger, also a Canadian. "All of Canada's watching, he's 35 years old - what a great story."

The Swiss, who often train together during down times in the European pro schedule, now have a good shot at winning Group A. After facing winless Germany, Switzerland will meet host Italy, the only other team in the group that hasn't recorded a victory.

"We're playing well as a team, we're getting great penalty-killing, and our goaltending's awesome," DiPietro said. "We're playing as a five-man unit right now, and it's great to see."

The Swiss, who are No. 8 in the world but are considered well behind the top seven, have 13 players under 6 feet, but make up for their lack of size and talent with a solid team game and strong goaltending.

"We have small guys, but they can all play physical," defenseman Goran Bezina said. "We play with heart. The talent was bigger on their side, but I think the work ethic was bigger on our side today."

The Germans salvaged a 3-3 tie with Italy on Saturday, but most likely blew any chance of advancing in the tournament. Italy's Christian Borgatello scored a short-handed goal with 1:32 left, but Marcel Goc tied the game 15 seconds later.

Germany, which faces Finland in its final game in the preliminary round, is in desperate need of wins if it hopes to reach the quarterfinals.

"I'm not a big a fan of these mathematical equations," coach Uwe Krupp said. "We want to play a strong game (against Switzerland), then we'll see where we stand."

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