Greetings from HSBC Arena as we get set to start the knockout round of the World Junior Championships. Somehow, that term makes me laugh for some reason. And it's really not a knockout anyway. You just play in lower-level placement games until you lose. In any event, we've got Canada and Switzerland coming with a 3:30 faceoff.
I know the Swiss played well in Friday's 2-1 loss to Team USA but I see no way Canada loses this one. The Canadians are 18-0 all-time against the Swiss in this tournament with an aggregate goal advantage of 122-32. This is a pretty good Switzerland team but Canada will have Zack Kassian back and you have to figure the red and white will be sharp after Friday's 6-5 shootout loss to Sweden.
And you know who tournament organizers want to win. We all get what we want -- Canada vs. US, Monday night at 7:30 -- if the Canadians take care of business here.
Couple bits business before this one: Canada is changing goalies and going to Mark Visentin of the OHL's Niagara Ice Dogs in place of Olivier Roy, who struggled Friday. Good call there. This will easily be the smallest crowd of the tournament for a Canada game. Remember, this one wasn't on anyone's schedule until the Canadians lost Friday. I'm still thinking we get to 10,000 or so. Then look for the house to be just about filled the next three nights.
5;13 p.m.: Game on.
15:43 left: You just felt the pressure bubble lift. Cody Eakin finds Louis Leblanc in the right circle after a nice tap pass from behind the net by Schenn. LeBlanc beats Conz short side. Bad gol. Canada leads 3-1.
10:00 left: Shots are 9-3 in this period and 43-20 for the game.
8:13 left: Canada goes for the clincher as Benjamin Antonietti goes for slashing.
5:38 left: Clock running down with Swiss no real threat. Shots at 46-20. Just 5 1/2 minutes away from THE showdown.
5:07 left: Tristan Schwerney for a head check (two minutes) and 10-minute misconduct. Knocked Ashton's helmet clear off his head.
2:41 left: Conz with two more great saves. Swiss call a timeout. No real threat in a 3-1 hole.
2:20 left: Crowd starts chanting "We want U-S-A".
1:59 left: And they will get USA as Kassian scores into the empty net on Canada's 50th shot to make it 4-1. Swiss star Nino Niederreiter, who has been no factor in this one, gets a misconduct. You'd think the No. 5 pick in the draft would have more impact than he has.
1:31 left: Another penalty on frustrated Swiss, a roughing call on Bartschi, and a roughing penalty to Canada's Gudbranson.
It's over: Canada wins 4-1 and meets Team USA here Monday night at 7:30. Final shots on goal in this one were 50-22.
4:28 p.m: Game on.
14:55 left: Canada's first shot, an easy one by Johansen. Swiss have three. Better start for them. They found their equilibrium at intermission.
12:34 left: Hard to believe Canada can be this lethargic with this much on the line. One shot in 7 1/2 minutes. They took the day off yesterday after losing to Sweden. Maybe they should have practiced?
11:20 left: Good Canada shift results in a couple good chances by Howden and Connolly. One good Conz save, one shot wide.
8:42 left: Conz robs Foligno from in front after feed from Johansen from behind the net. Best chance of the period.
6:08 left: Carter Ashton for slashing. Wow, what a mistake by Visentin. He sprinted to the bench thinking the penalty was on the Swiss and left the net open. But they couldn't get a shot at the empty goal from the other end.
4:00 left: Visentin has such a shaky glove. Never catches anything. Stabs at the puck. Dropped on there. Lucky no Swiss around to tap it in. Shots are 9-6 for Switzerland in this period.
2:32 left: On shot No. 30, Canada finally breaks through for a 2-1 lead. Casey Cizikas beats Conz high over the glove on a 2-on-1 with Louis Leblanc. Great feed by Carter Ashton. Canada leads, 2-1.
End-2nd: Canada leads 2-1 and has a 34-17 edge in shots (11-9 in that period, including the last five). Cizikas had a chance in the final 20 seconds for another one on a 2-on-1 but Conz made the save. Should have really passed it to the slot to an open Foligno.
3:39 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:51 left: Whoa. First shot of the game goes by Visentin and it's a brutal goal as Inti Pestoni dribbles one just inside the goalie's right skate and post as it's deflected in by Ryan Ellis. Switzerland, 1-0, and the crowd is stunned.
17:39 left: Canada to the power play as Schappi goes for delay of game. Kassian on the ice for Canada after serving his suspension.
16:21 left: Now it's a 5-on-3 for 46 seconds as Nicholas Steiner goes for closing his hand on the puck.
14:30 left: Couple chances but no goals. Shots are 2-2. So far, the Canadians look like a tight, nervous team. And that early goal certainly didn't help.
13:46 left: Not much confidence in the building in Visentin. He just fumbled Reto Schiappi's easy flip shot from the left before covering it in front of him. You could hear the murmurs going through the stands. Shots are 5-3 for Canada. Couple nice saves in the last minute by Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz. Remember, he made 40 saves Friday against Team USA. There's a big edge in net for the Swiss in this one. Canada has to counter that in other areas.
12:26 left: One of the Swiss coaches just got plugged on the side of the head by a puck over the boards. He's off for repairs and pounded the wall as he headed down the runway.
11:23 left: Brett Connolly stopped in front on a one-timer. Great feed by Couturier. Conz is a stud. Scary for Canada. Shots are 9-3.
9:36 left: Visentin holds the post after Schiappi steals in from Ellis and gets in tight. Can't even imagine how high the pressure meter would get if the Swiss got another here.
7:20 left: That was, in fact, Swiss head coach Richard Jost who was struck on the bench. He's back and went down the line of his players tapping them on the back to tell them he had returned.
5:07 left: Bartschi goes for slashing. Comes a few seconds after Dylan Olson goes in on goal but is stopped by Conz.
4:54 left: Canada ties it at 1-1. Pass by Schenn from right circle was stopped by the defense but Ryan Johansen scooped the puck up first and slid it along the ice under Conz. Shots are 15-6.
3:32 left: Conz stops Barrie on the backhand. Swiss need to hold on here and get to the locker room tied to stem this momentum. Canada takes the lead and all its confidence comes back. Shots 16-7.
3:21 left: Conz with the glove save on a laser from Johansen streaking down the right wing.
2:51 left: Johansen robbed again from in front. Sick backhand pass from the wall by captain Ryan Ellis.
End-1st: It's tied at 1-1 but it turned into a shooting gallery over the final 10 minutes as Canada has a 23-8 bulge in shots on goal. Johansen stopped again in the final minute and so was Kassian on a feed from Marcus Foligno. Those three put together for a great shift.