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Switzerland stuns Sweden at Worlds

by Adam Schwartz

Red Wings draft pick Stefan Liv of Team Sweden, gave up three goals on 27 shots against Team Switzerland.
Switzerland’s surprising 4-2 defeat of high-powered Team Sweden added to the upsets in preliminary round play at the 2008 World Championships. Earlier in the preliminary round, Germany stunned Slovakia.

Entering the third period Wednesday, Switzerland was nursing a 2-1 lead. Then, Thibault Monnet and Beat Forster of Switzerland sandwiched goals around Sweden’s lone goal, by Patric Hornqvist, in the third period. Forster’s goal was an empty-net goal.

Thierry Paterlini and Andres Ambuhl also scored for the Swiss. Sweden’s other goal came from Fredrik Warg, who plays for Modo in the Swedish Elite League.

Despite the availability of Henrik Lundqivst of the New York Rangers, who joined the team Wednesday, the Swedes decided to go in a different direction in net for their final preliminary game.

After yielding five goals in his first game, Swedish goalie Mikael Tellqvist, who played 22 games for the Phoenix Coyotes this season, has not played again. Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson decided to start Detroit Red Wings draft pick Stefan Liv, who shut out the French 9-0. Liv gave up three goals while facing 27 Swiss shots.

The Swiss, who also have multiple NHL goalies to choose from, started Anaheim Ducks’ backup goalie Jonas Hiller after starting Ottawa Senators goalie Martin Gerber in their two previous wins against Belarus and France.

Sweden admitted to being out-worked by a hungry Swiss team.

“They out-worked us in every aspect of the game,” Gustafsson said. “There was no question about who the better team was.”

While the Swiss acknowledged that they are not as skilled as the superpowers of hockey, they believe that they have an advantage against the better teams because they had a longer training camp and more time to jell.

“We can't match the big nations player by player,” said Swiss coach Ralph Krueger. “But we can match them as a team. We've had a longer camp than the rest, which has helped us build the team. Now the fun begins for us.”

With the win, Switzerland is 3-0 and won Group A. It will face the Czech Republic on Thursday night and the Swedes will face Denmark on Thursday afternoon.

The game against the Swiss isn’t the only thing that the Swedes lost Wednesday. Defenseman Niclas Wallin, who plays for the Carolina Hurricanes, was suspended two games after receiving a match penalty for his hit on Swiss forward Roman Wick.

Around the World Championships -- Slovakia came back to tie the score in the first period after Finland scored the first two goals, but the Finns prevailed thanks to a second-period power-play goal from Teemu Selanne. …The Slovaks finished the preliminary round 1-2 and in last place in Group C. The Finns were undefeated in the first round and garnered five of a possible six points to win Group C. They face Latvia on Friday. … Czech Republic right wing Radim Vrbata, who had a career-high of 56 points with Phoenix Coyotes this season, is tied with four other players for second in points in the tournament with six. …. Russian left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored 52 goals and 35 assists for the Atlanta Thrashers this season, had no goals, but five assists in Russia’s three preliminary round games. … Norway, which beat the Germans 3-2 to capture second place in Group C, is led in points by Morten Ask, who has two goals and two assists for four points. Norway will have a tough task Thursday when it battles with Canada to open the qualification round. … Belarus defeated France 3-1 on Wednesday and earned third place in Group A and will not be relegated. Belarus is led by defenseman Oleg Leontiev, who has three assists and a plus-4 rating, and forward Alexei Kalyuzhny, who has one goal and three assists for four points and a plus-2 rating while averaging 20:24 of ice time per game. … The French, who will try to stave off relegation, have scored just two goals in their three preliminary round games. The French understand that they have to elevate their game to keep from being relegated. “When you’re among the world’s best nations, you learn,” said French forward Francois Rozenthal. “The rhythm is much higher at this level than in our clubs in France. Every day is different. We’ll just get back to work on Friday.”

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