U.S. tops Swiss in world juniors buildup

Team Switzerland Lukas Meili keeps out Team U.S. Stephen Johns during second period WJC...

Team Switzerland Lukas Meili keeps out Team U.S. Stephen Johns during second period WJC pre-competition hockey at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose, Alberta on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI AGENCY)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:59 AM ET

CAMROSE - Swiss goalie Lukas Meili had more holes in his equipment than his cheese in a 7-3 loss to the U.S. on Wednesday night.

A near sold-out Camrose's EnCana Arena saw the U.S. bounce back from a 6-3 loss to Russia in Red Deer the night before, as pre-competition continued ahead of the 2012 world junior hockey championship kicking off in Edmonton and Calgary on Dec. 26.

The U.S. jumped to a 3-0 lead, owning the first period, which began with a giveaway by Swiss forward Samuel Walser that was slid past Meili by Austin Czarnek just 23 seconds in.

And in this tournament, the first goal counts more than most.

“Very important,” said U.S. head coach Dean Blais. “You don't want to sit back, certainly, but after (the loss to Russia), to get down two to nothing then we're scrambling to get back.”

On Wednesday, that responsibility was left up to Switzerland.

But Meili didn't get much help from his offence, whose collective army knife didn't hold the answer to unlocking U.S. goalie John Gibson, who turned aside all of just four shots in the first 20 minutes.

U.S. forward Charlie Coyle improved the odds of a three-on-two by swatting away Swiss defenceman Dario Trutmann's stick, as Brandon Saad made good on the feed from Jason Zucker to go ahead 2-0.

“The line was clicking pretty well,” said Saad, who led the way with a pair of goals and five points. “In this tournament, no lead is really safe. They showed a little battle-back.”

Bill Arnold made it a three-point lead to close out the first period outshooting Switzerland 16-4, but the Swiss found their way onto the scoreboard to open the second with Christoph Bertschy scoring on the power play.

The U.S. answered back on a man-advantage of their own less than three minutes later, off the stick of Emerson Etem to lead 4-1, before Charlie Coyle pushed their lead to four points.

Down but not out, Switzerland showed some life with a goal by Sven Bartschi, who picked up his own rebound on a breakaway. But it was short-lived as T.J. Tynan scored on the power play with 10.6 seconds left to send the U.S. into the third period ahead 6-2.

Gibson, who stopped 17 of 20 shots, played the puck onto Bertschy for his second goal of the game 36 seconds before Saad did the same to round out the scoring.

But Gibson's lone mistake is something the Americans were willing to live with if it means having a strong backup behind starter Jack Campbell for the tournament.

“How do you explain it?” Zucker asked. “Two obviously great guys: Campbell's proven, three years in this tournament now; John Gibson is obviously a great goaltender, having a great year in Kitchener.

“And no matter who is in net, they're going to make sure that they're playing their A-game and keep all the first shots out.”

Switzerland, who gave up 35 shots to the Americans, now shifts its focus towards closing out the pre-competition schedule against Team Canada in Red Deer (7 p.m., TSN).

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


Videos

Photos