Victory over Canada one Swiss will never forget

TURIN -- In Team Canada's dressing room, it was regarded as just another loss.

Down the hall where Team Switzerland's locker room was located, it regarded as the biggest win in the history of Swiss hockey. And with good reason.

A day after upsetting the Czech Republic, the Swiss, who boast only three NHLers on their squad, took on a Canadian team full of NHL all-stars and not only beat them, but shut them out 2-0.

To Canada it may just be another loss -- if it beats Finland today in a rematch of the 2004 World Cup final, then yesterday's game won't mean much in the grand scheme of things.

But to Swiss players and fans, it's something they will never forget.

As the final seconds on the clock counted down at the Torino Espozioni, a huge Swiss flag that covered an entire section was held up as the fans yelled, clapped, hugged and sang. No wonder. Swiss fans have never seen the likes of this.

Their team didn't just beat anybody. It knocked off the hockey super-power and defending Olympic gold medallists and they were going to enjoy every minute of it.

"That's No. 1, there's no question about it," said Switzerland defenceman Julien Vauclair, who had a short stay in the Senators organization.

If the speedy Swiss wanted to serve notice they are for real, then they did it convincingly. The Canadians may have outshot them 49-18, but the better team -- at least on this day -- won.

"This is a very special day for Swiss hockey and very special day for this group of individuals that believed this was possible," said Swiss coach Ralph Kruger, a Winnipeg native.

"We had a lot of courage. It started with 'The Wall' in net in Martin Gerber. We had great penalty killing and then we had a bunch of players who, frankly, not long ago were asking for autographs from the players that we played against.

"I think if the word 'team' was ever used to describe a performance, I would say that's how you would define (this game)."

The win meant most to Swiss winger Paul DiPietro, who scored twice and shared the starring role with Gerber. DiPietro, 35, played for the Canadiens when they won the Stanley Cup in 1993 and admitted this victory felt pretty darn good.

"With the Stanley Cup win, this is the greatest moment of my life," said DiPietro, who had family and friends watching back home in Sault Ste. Marie.

Even Canadian coach Pat Quinn said his team was beaten at its own game.

"It looked like we wanted to play a European game," Quinn said. "We did a lot of east-west and not much north-south in our game. The Swiss team came to work and they played a better Canadian game than we did. At the end of the night, they probably got a just reward."

Quinn is going to try to changing his lines today against the Finns to see if he can get some offence going.

Nobody thought the Canadians would have any problems scoring, but they sure did against Gerber, who along with fellow netminder David Aebischer (Colorado Avalanche) and defenceman Mark Streit (Canadiens) are Switzerland's only NHLers.

"That's certainly something that's special and something we're going to enjoy," said Gerber, a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. "We knew it was going to be tough for the first 20 minutes and that we had to stay in there.

"To beat a team like Canada means a lot to everybody."