With about five minutes left to play in the game, the chants from the pro-Canada crowd started. "We Want U-S-A."
They got their wish.
It wasn't easy for Canada against a very stingy Switzerland team as Canada held a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of play, but they would prevail, winning the quarterfinal matchup 4-1.
"We're excited. We obviously didn't want to be in this quarterfinal when we started but that's the way the tournament goes," said Panthers prospect Quinton Howden
. "We're excited to play today. Came out with a big effort. Give credit to the Swiss. They're a good team over there and they battled us hard. We came out with the win."
"They always play a hard game. They play a very Canadian style of hockey," said prospect Erik Gudbranson
who finished with two shots and a minor penalty. "We were prepared for that. We knew they were going to come hard."
While it's not the Canada/USA dream matchup that everyone had hoped to see in the Gold Medal of the game, the two teams are expected to make it one great semi-final matchup.
"You don't need to do anything to get jumped up for that. We're really excited and it's a good opportunity for us. They're a really good team and we're going to have to prepare well."
"Everybody knows about that," said Howden. "It's one of the biggest rivalries in all of hockey. I think everybody is looking forward to it."
Like he has all tourament, Swiss netminder Benjamin Conz gave his team a chance to win the game, thwarting the Canada attack the majority of the night. The undrafted netminder would finish with 46 saves. His counterpart Mark Visentin would be stellar as well after a shaky start, turning aside 21 shots.
It would be the Swiss who would get on the board first, just 1:09 into the contest as Visentin let in a soft one by Inti Pestoni. The Swiss forward took a shot from the goal line and Visentin didn't have his pad hugging the post and the puck squeeked by.
"You don't want to give a goal up that early in the game but that's the way it goes and you have to bounce back from it," said Howden. "Our leadership on the bench was calming us down and keeping us cool. We came out the next shift with a big bang and kept going from there."
With back-to-back power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 42 seconds, Canada had a great opportunity to tie it up but couldn't really get a good shot on Conz early in the period.
The Canadians would eventually tie it later on the power play with 4:54 remaining in the period. Getting the puck in front of the net, Johansen would beat Conz five-hole for his second goal of the tournament.
Canada would get several other oppotunities to take their first lead of the game in the first. With 3:34 left, Barrie, a defenseman broke ahead of the rush, and after receiving the pass, sent a backhander on net. Conz came up with the stop. He was equally up to the task against Johansen, snagging the puck high out of the air on a rush with 3:21 left and then stopped him on three attempts in succession with 3:21 remaining.
Switzerland also had a chance with 1:40 to play when Renato Engler put one through the crease from just above the goal line.
Buffalo prospect Marcus Foligno had a perfect chance to give Canada their first lead with 8:50 left in the second but Conz came up with a huge save. Johansen made some good work behind the Swiss net before feeding Foligno who was in front of the net while falling down.
Cizikis would finally break through the Swiss defense and Conz with 2:32 left in the middle stanza. Skating down the ice with Brett Connolly on a 2-on-1, Cizikis bode his time and then roofed it over the netminder.
"I think after that goal, we started to taste it," said Gudbranson. "Obviously we were thinking about the next game but we had the taste in our mouth that we were winning. We just put our foot on the gas pedal."
|Mark Visentin following Canada's 4-1 victory. |
Louis Leblanc would give Canada a two-goal lead 4:17 into the third period. Cody Eakin stole the puck and after cycling with his teammates, set up Leblanc for the shot from the face-off circle.
Down two, the Swiss turned up their pressure on Canada but couldn't find a way to beat Visentin. Yannick Herren had a great chance as he three the puck off of Visentin's back pad with 11:30 left but the puck bounced just wide of the goal.
Pulling their netminder for the extra attacker with 2:10 went for naught as Zack Kassian recorded the empty net goal 11 seconds later.
"I thought we just had to play our game," said Howden. "The Swiss is a very offensive team. They jump on you really hard. They work hard in all zones of the ice. We knew what we had to do coming in and obviously they're a good team over there but we capitalized on some of our chances and got the win in the end."