The USA-Sweden game last night at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship was going to be a hard act to follow. And with only two games today, it was probably not going to be equaled. Although the drama was not quite the same as last night’s last minute heroics for the US, the Switzerland versus Russia game seemed to include a little bit of everything else.
Akira Schmid got the start in Vancouver and he made 34 saves. Russia won the game 7-4 however.
The game started off on a strange foot as Switzerland’s Marco Lehmann scored just 49 seconds into the first period. The goal was reviewed by the IIHF to check for goalie interference, but the call on the ice stood: we had a good goal. The Swiss had immediately jumped out to the 1-0 lead.
Valentin Nussbaumer would make it 2-0 at the 9:06 mark to really put the Swiss in the driver’s seat. Less than ten minutes in and the Swiss had seemingly taken control of the game. It was a good position to be in.
However, Kirill Marchenko would cut the lead in half and get Russia back into things when he scored at 14:27 of the first period. This goal seemed initially to be offsides, however while the Russian skater did enter the zone before the puck, he had firm control of it behind him, therefore there was no offsides and the goal counted.
The second period, one that will go down as one of the wildest periods I have personally ever seen in a hockey game, started innocently enough. Lehmann scored his second of the game to give the Swiss a 3-1 lead. He chipped the puck over the shoulder of Russian goaltender Danil Tarasov.
That goal was 5:46 into the period and 21 seconds after that, Dmitri Samorukov scored unassisted to make it 3-2.
Then a pretty scary moment as, on a 2-on-1, a Swiss skater went crashing skates first into Tarasov. He seemed to be clutching his left leg and the worst was thought: that he got cut by the skate blade. He was checked out by the Russian trainer, however, and was okay. He remained in the game.
A few minutes following that, Grigori Denisenko scored for the Russians to tie things up at three on the power play. Then the real weirdness began.
Switzerland’s Lehmann was hauled down on a breakaway not once, but twice. The officials got together and initially signaled that there would be a penalty shot for the first trip and a two-minute minor penalty for the second. However, it was then ruled that the Swiss would get two penalty shots instead. It was a strange call, as really only the trip where Lehmann was in the clear should have been the penalty shot, but was a moot point anyway as Switzerland missed both penalty shots.
As if that was not weird enough, with Russia still on a power play from before the penalty shots (Sandro Schmid was off for high sticking for Switzerland), Ivan Muranov was caught butt-ending a Swiss player in the midsection. He got a five minute major for butt-ending and a game misconduct and was thrown out. Now, with the Russian power play expiring, the Swiss would be on the power play for a little more than four minutes.
However, it was the Russians who took control on that penalty kill. Kirill Slepets scored unassisted and shorthanded off of a turnover in the Swiss zone to make it 4-3 Russia. From there, Russia basically opened the floodgates.
Alexander Alexeyev scored at the 6:38 mark to give the Russians a 5-3 lead. Switzerland’s Yannick Bruschweiler notched one 35 seconds after that to cut the lead to 5-4 and pull the Swiss back into it, but that was as close as they got.
Pavel Shen scored through Schmid’s five hole to make it 6-4 and Vitali Kravtsov scored 1:08 later to make it 7-4, which was our final. Switzerland pulled Schmid with about two minutes to go in the game in an attempt to get things going, but to no avail.
It was a very entertaining game and takes us into tomorrow. The Swiss are done with preliminary play, finishing with a 1-0-1-2 record and four points in four games in Group A. They had 11 goals for and 12 against for a goal differential of minus-1.
Tomorrow, the Swedes kick off the day against Kazakhstan. Then the big one as the Russians faceoff with the Canadians and then the night cap as Team USA faces the Finns. We will have coverage of all of that here for you as well as the Devils-Canucks game at 1 PM.