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by Warren Kosel / Buffalo Sabres
                                                                                                                                              Credit: Micheline Veluvolu/
Micheline Veluvolu

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND – Matthew Lombardi notched three points (2+1) and goaltender Tobias Stephan stopped all 23 shots he faced as Geneve-Servette defeated the Rochester Americans 5-0 in Thursday’s opening round matchup of the 2013 Spengler Cup at Vaillant Arena in Davos, Switzerland.

Kaspars Daugavins, who spent several years in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators, and Juraj Simek each notched a goal and an assist while Cody Almond rounded out the scoring for Geneve-Servette, which is making its second Spengler Cup appearance in four years.

Alex Hutchings and Brayden McNabb each finished with a team-high three shots for the Amerks and goaltender Matt Hackett recorded 32 saves in Rochester’s return to Switzerland for the first time since 1996.

“The game obviously got a little out of hand, but I was pretty happy with the way we played,” said Amerks head coach Chadd Cassidy after the game. “We were playing shorthanded and we lost five of our guys to call-ups and injuries. I thought the guys played well tonight and it was certainly good experience for them, but you could definitely see the difference in both our styles tonight.”

Hackett was tested in the early goings of the contest with Geneve-Servette applying heavy offensive pressure right from the start. The Amerks netminder was forced to make several big saves through the first eight minutes of the matchup, including his biggest save of the frame when he and the crossbar teamed up to deny Dennis Hollenstein’s breakaway opportunity just 3:51 in.

Geneve-Servette opened the scoring for the tournament midway through first period with Daugavins, a former Calder Cup champion, finishing a nifty give-and-go to give his team a 1-0 lead. With the Amerks on the man-advantage, Daugavins jumped on a loose puck to the right of the Geneve-Servette net and raced out of the zone on a 2-on-1 fast break with Lombardi streaking up the left wing side. After gaining the Rochester blueline, Daugavins flipped a pass to Lombardi, who then one-touched the offer back to Daugavins for the tap-in past Hackett at the 11:41 mark.

A back-and-forth second period saw the teams trade scoring chances, but would soon become a goaltending duel between Hackett and Stephan. Rochester had its best opportunity of the game when Hutchings became the beneficiary of a fortuitous bounce and skated in alone on a breakaway 9:03 into the middle frame. Stephan, however, came up big yet again for Geneve-Servette with one of his seven stops during the period to keep the Amerks at bay.

At the other end of the ice, Hackett, too, had a strong showing between the pipes and was able to keep everything in front of him until Lombardi tipped in Garret Stafford’s slap-shot from the point to put Geneve-Servette up 2-0 on the power-play with 1:49 remaining in the second period.

Geneve-Servette quickly put the game out of reach, scoring twice in a span of 1:35 to make it a 4-0 game, beginning with Lombardi striking again 5:11 into the third period for his second goal of the game and third point of the night. Lombardi corralled a loose puck behind the Rochester net, swung out to the left of Hackett and stuffed a shot inside the near post moments before Christian Marti sprung Simek free with a long stretch pass for a breakaway goal at 6:46.

Geneve-Servette took its largest lead of the night with 3:38 remaining when Alexandre Picard gained possession of the puck off the end boards and spun a no-look pass to a breaking Almond, who darted to the net and snapped a back-hander over Hackett’s left shoulder to secure the 5-0 win.

The 2013 Spengler Cup continues from Davos, Switzerland as the Amerks battle Sergei Fedorov and CSKA Moscow in the second round of the pre-semifinals on Friday, Dec. 27 at 3:00 p.m. Vaillant Arena. The matchup will again be will be televised live across Europe via Eurosport and in Canada on TSN.

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