Juniors winning ugly

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Neutralized by Switzerland!

Almost beat by Joggi, Berra ...

It seems so strange for Canada to be considered an underdog at the World Junior, especially on Canadian ice.

Now you know why.

They're barely better than Switzerland. At least they were barely better in a 4-3 win in their second game of the tournament here yesterday.

Brent Sutter still hasn't lost in eight games coaching Team Canada at the World Junior, but almost saw his streak stopped in what would have been one of the biggest upsets in tournament history - going against Mathias Joggi, Reto Berra and the rest of the Swiss squad.

It would have been such a wonderful story, at least outside the borders of Canada, if Switzerland had won this one.

"Then we go drinking somewhere," said Berra, who lists his idol as Manny Fernandez.

PLAYING IN THE VIKING CUP

Manny Fernandez is not the first choice of many in the search for an idol, but Berra was playing in the Viking Cup in Camrose and went to an NHL game in Edmonton where the Minnesota Wild scored a shutout over the Oilers.

If he'd won this one, he may have become an idol of some kids of the future at this year's Viking Cup.

"Oh, that was a very good game," said the goaltender. "All our players played well. It was big, big, big. But if we had won ... "

Joggi said it's as good a feeling as you can have losing.

"When you almost beat Canada, the world champions, it is a very good feeling for a little country like Switzerland," he said.

Understand, Switzerland is a country which had played Canada 15 times in previous World Juniors and lost 15 times by a combined count of 106-28.

Before you can criticize these Canadian kids, you have to credit the Swiss. But, other than maybe Steve Downie coming back from missing a practice with the flu - with a goal and an assist - there wasn't much credit due to Canada.

"We didn't play our game," said David Bolland.

Several players suggested that despite Sutter's warnings not to take the Swiss for granted, they did just that.

"They played well," he said. "They have a big team that can skate. As a coach you try to prepare your team as well as you can. Obviously we weren't prepared for how hard that team was going to compete."

The officiating by German referee Frank Awizus was awful but it was equally awful.

"I think it threw both teams back a bit," was Sutter's response.

"The reality is that we need to get better as a team and so does the officiating need to get better."

Sutter had no problem with the double minor to Benoit Pouliot for high sticking and elbowing late in the third period.

"That was a selfish penalty. He put himself ahead of his team at that point."

Sutter was also upset at Edmonton's first round draft choice Andrew Cogliano.

He benched Cogliano, arguably Canada's best player through the two pre-season games and the opener against Finland, for almost the entire second period.

'TOO MUCH PERIMETER HOCKEY'

"He was playing too much perimeter hockey. This was a game you had to get into the trenches and he was playing it outside. After sitting him through the second, I put him back in for the third period and I thought he played well."

Cogliano declared himself guilty. But he seemed to be confused about the reason he was benched.

"I expected that," he said. "I made an error passing. I knew I should have been punished."

In the end, what do you do?

"At the end of the day, it's a win," said Sutter who takes his team against Norway today.

Canada is 5-0 all time against the Norwegians with a 46-6 for-against total.

The scary thing is that Switzerland beat Norway 2-0 and the tournament favourite Americans stomped them 11-2.

Now that would be an upset.


Photos