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Russia: "We'll have to adjust to an enemy's crowd"

It’ll be hard to tell tonight. Yet again, the HSBC Arena crowd will be a red mob. But Russia has quite a following itself. Back home, Russian players say word of their World Juniors run is spreading. They've quickly become this tourney’s cardiac kids. And tonight, again, they'll be underdogs. Still, you get the sense they’re playing with nothing-to-lose mojo.

Comeback wins over Finland and Sweden earned Russia a shot at the gold medal tonight. Here’s some thoughts from coach Valeri Bragin and his players (through a translator) with the big one approaching fast:

Valeri Bragin, coach

On his team staying loose: “It’s a good atmosphere and very easy to explain. We haven’t played in the finals in several years so after two tough games, the players are just enjoying practice.”

On if the Americans were not ready for physical game against Canada: “I think Canada just scored three goals and the game practically ended at point.”

On whether there’s pressure to win: “I don’t think there’s any pressure because before every tournament, the goal is to get to the finals. But then in the finals, the chances are equal for both teams, 50/50. I don’t see any pressure right now.”

Yevgeni Kuznetsov, forward

On expectations back home: “Obviously Canada is ready for the game because this is like their home. There will be a full crowd supporting them but in Russia, people are expecting a gold from us.”

On what stood out in the US/Canada game: “I didn’t like the game because it was one-sided. Maybe the United States wasn’t ready but in general, I did not like the game. I expected a much closer fight. America didn’t look like they should look.”

Nikita Pivtsakin, defenseman

On beating Canada: “Anything is possible. It’s a team goal.”

On the Canada/Russia rivalry: “It’s always interesting because we play them at different levels—on junior, on senior, there are always different teams and different tournaments. I think the whole hockey world will follow this game. I understand what the rivalry means.”

On playing in front of such a pro-Canadian crowd: “We’ll have to adjust to an enemy’s crowd. We’ll have to score a goal just to make the crowd silent.”

---Tyler Dunne

Live: Finland vs. Switzerland

Shootout

But first, an update from Niagara. The Czech Republic finished its tournament with a 5-2 victory over Slovakia in the last relegation round.

Finland shooter 1: Pulkkinen stopped by Conz.

Swiss shooter 1: Niederreiter stopped by Ortio.

Finland shooter 2: Haula goes backhand, but loses control and the puck goes wide.

Swiss shooter 2: Pestoni comes in sloooow to the right, runs out of real estate and is stopped by Ortio.

Finland shooter 3: Donskoi can't beat Conz, either. The Swiss goalie stayed with a nice move and got a glove on the shot. 

Swiss shooter 3: Sven Bartschi stoned by Ortio. To extra shooters we go.

Swiss shooter 4: Yannick Herren gets the call and scores. He goes top shelf on the backhand. Think Ales Kotalik in the shootout.

Finland shooter 4: The Finns go back to Pulkkinen, but he loses the puck on the way in and Conz pushes it away. Game over.

The Swiss win, 3-2, in a shootout. Good night.

Overtime

9:44 p.m.: Here we go.

3:56 left: Conz freezes it next to his right post. No real good chances yet for either side.

2:43 left: Great chance for Swiss defenseman Romain Loeffel coming off the bench, but he he can't find the net with a rocket from the point.

1:03 left: Save of the game by Conz, who gets a stick on Joonas Nattinen's shot. Nattinen was alone in front. Amazing save by Conz.

:15.1 left: Timeout, Finland.

9:51 p.m.: To a shootout we go.

Third Period

9:12 p.m.: Welcome back.

16:20 left: Finland to the power play. Dario Trutmann to the box for holding. Updates will be a little less frequent in the third period as we've got a story to file for an early deadline.

14:05 left: The Swiss parade to the penalty box continues. This time it's Benjamin Antonietti for high-sticking. The last Finns' power play looked good, so we'll see what they can do with this one.

12:16 left: Someone has to do something with all these power play chances, right? It's Switzerland's turn with the man advantage, as Henri Tuominen goes to the box for charging.

9:50 left: Make it power play No. 3 for Finland this period. Swiss defender Samuel Guerra in the box for holding.

6:59 left: The best power play yet for Finland still ends without a goal. The best chance came when Joonas Donskoi couldn't get his stick on a perfect cross-ice pass from Pulkkinen with a yawning net staring at him. Shots are 28-18 for the Swiss.

4:42 left: Total domination this period everywhere except on the scoreboard for Finland. Overtime looming.

:3.2 seconds left: Overtime about here, despite a period which featured five power plays.

9:40 p.m.: And there it is. Overtime upcoming. Five minutes, if no winner, then a shootout.

Second Period

8:25 p.m.: We're back.

18:34 left: Two real good saves by Ortio, the second on Inti Pestoni, to keep it 2-1.

17:00 left: Switzerland penalty to Ryan McGregor, who sounds like he could be from Lancaster. Two minutes for interference.

15:31 left: Power play over as Joel Armia takes a lazy tripping penalty. But, hey, four-on-four play is fun!

14:37 left: Nieddereiter cashes in on the power play. Letting a wrist shot go from the top of the right circle that gets tipped and finds its way past Ortio. Tied up, 2-2.

13:51 left: Ortio keeps it that way, stopping Pestoni on a breakaway. The Finnish goalie stuck with it all the way and made a great blocker save.

10:46 left: Haas, the Swiss forward, goes crashing head-first into the boards, but thankfully he's ok. The hit earns Finnish forward Miikka Salomaki a two-minute minor for checking from behind and a 10-minute misconduct.

6:46 left: Long period of play with no whistles, but no goals. Shots are 20-7 for Switzerland, who's had the better of the play in this 20 minutes. Blooper time on the HSBC scoreboard, Mike Harrington.

6:38 left: Power play for the Finns, as Swiss forward Samuel Walser goes off for interference.

4:29 left: Power play over, and it was pretty ugly for the Finns.

2:36 left: This is the second meeting between these two teams. Finland won, 4-0, in the preliminary round. Much better showing for the Swiss this time. Shots are 21-10 right now.

8:53 p.m.: End of 2, tied at 2. I can't imagine the Sabres are going to be happy with this ice when they get home. Maybe a few days without games will make it better, but the puck simply won't stop bouncing around.

First Period

7:38 p.m.: Game on.

19:38 left: That didn't take long. Teemu Pulkkinen is left uncovered in front of Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz, and he bangs home a rebound for a 1-0 lead just 22 seconds into the game. Assists went to Erik Haula and Iiro Pakarinen.

17:04 left: Tie game! Tie game (trying to wake the crowd up)! Swiss forward Inti Pestoni knocks in a rebound, as well, after Finnish goalie Joni Ortio stopped Benjamin Antonietti's shot. Nice job by Swiss forward Gaeten Haas tying up both Finnish defensemen.

12:03 left: Break in the action. Shots are 5-3, Switzerland. Ortio was wiped out on the Swiss' last trip inside the Finland zone, and was none too happy about it. No penalties yet.

10:59 left: Scratch that. First penalty of the game goes to Finland's Tommi Kivisto for interference.

8:59 left: Power play over. Good puck movement, but no great chances for the Swiss.

7:43 left: Great cross-ice pass (sorry I missed by whom) gave Pulkkinen a great chance with an empty net, but he fanned. Still 1-1. Shots are 6-3 in favor of the Swiss.

5:03 left: This tournament has been great to cover, but it would be even better if it was played four-on-four. We just had two minutes of that here. No goals, but great chances at both ends.

3:23 left: Swiss back on the power play. Finland's Julius Junttila in the box for hooking.

1:57 left: The power play backfires, as Finland takes a 2-1 lead on a short-handed breakaway goal by Haula. The goal was set up by a perfect pass off the boards by Teemu Tallberg. Haula got Conz down, then went top-shelf on to left side of the net. A beauty. Sami Vatanen also picked up an assist on the goal.

8:08 p.m.: End of the first period. Finland leads, 2-1. Shots are 13-6 in favor of Switzerland. Swiss star Nino Niederreiter, the fifth overall pick in June's NHL draft by the New York Islanders, had a good chance off a faceoff with eight seconds left, but his shot went just wide.

HSBC announcement: Tickets remain available for tomorrow's bronze-medal game between the U.S. and Sweden. Will be interesting to see what kind of crowd that game draws. It's a 3:30 p.m. start.

----

Hello again from my home away from home, HSBC Arena. The atmosphere here tonight is, um, different than USA-Canada last night.

That's ok, though. Switzerland and Finland will meet in just a few minutes in the fifth-place game. Earlier today, Norway defeated Germany, 3-1, in a relegation game at Niagara's Dwyer Arena. Those two teams, however, have finished third and fourth in the relegation round, meaning they have to participate in the Division I (secondary) event in 2012. Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which are playing in the other relegation game at Dwyer, remain eligible for next year's event in Calgary/Edmonton.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Postgame audio: Coaches Cameron, Allain; USA goalie Campbell; Canada goalie Visentin; USA forward Brown

I escaped the crush of media members inside HSBC Arena with a few audio interviews that you can actually hear. Most of the interviews featured the muffled sounds of players drowned out by pushing and yelling media members, so I trust you don't want to hear all that.

The following is from Team USA goalie Jack Campbell, the only American who knew the game was tonight, and the coaches, Canada's Dave Cameron and Team USA's Keith Allain. Meanwhile, Miguel Rodriguez has audio of Canada goalie Mark Visentin and United States forward Chris Brown.

Jack Campbell

Coaches Dave Cameron (Canada) and Keith Allain (Team USA)

Mark Visentin

Chris Brown

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Live: Sweden/Russia

Shootout:

RUSSIA WINS. Golubev scores and Sweden's final shot hits the post. WOW 4-3.

Overtime:

10:00 left: Sudden death. Here we go.

8:18: Johan Larsson of Sweden rips a shot from the right circle that's gloved by Shikin. Russian goalie has 44 saves today.

6:40: Swedes are teeing off. Cehlin just whizzed through the Russian defense in close but fired wide left.

5:07: Russia's Tarasenko tries splitting the Sweden defense and dives/trips. Fans wanted a penalty.

1:30: (Read above) Russia not getting many legit chances.

0:17: Looks like we're heading toward a shootout. Faceoff to Shikin's right coming. Sweden calls timeout to discuss. Maybe we'll get one more shot on net. Sweden has 48 so far.

0:00: Shot fired wide. Here we go...

SIDE NOTE: SABRES CONFIRM SELLOUT OF USA/CANADA GAME

Third Period:

We're a few minutes away from the start of the third. Just asked the guys here for some predictions. Mike says, Sweden will win 3-2. Miguel says, "Pain." I'll take Sweden in a shootout.

5:14 p.m.: Puck drop

19:01 left: Russia blows a big chance there. Puck bounces off Lehner to Dmitri Orlov and he can't finish it.

18:40: GOAL, Sweden. Game on. Larsson makes another outstanding play. The defenseman backhands a clear toward the net and Calle Jarnkrok taps it in. 2-2.

13:43: Russia's Valuiski breaks free untouched toward Lehner, dekes and cannot finish. His shot slips through the goalie's legs, to the left.

7:57: Neither team pressing too much, though Sweden keeps a steady forecheck going. Shots are in the Swedes' favor, 39-28. Since that timeout, they've really woken up.

6:47: Sweden keeps play in Russia's end. One shift, players cycled at will through the Russian zone.

6:04: Fasth strongarms his way to the net and gets a shot on Shikin, who quickly covers it up.

3:52: That's Overofficiating 101. Russia's Orlov taps his stick into a Sweden player and gets called for slashing. Looked like a stretch from up here. Could be the difference in the game. Fans here are booing.

3:19: GOAL, Sweden. With a teammate screening the goalie, Patrick Cehlin unleashes a hard shot from the point. Great execution. 3-2, Sweden. Hard to see a semifinal game come down to a ticky-tack penalty. Russia cannot be happy.

1:27: GOAL, Russia. Wow. Mad scramble in front of the net and a Russian Sergei Kalinin buries it. 3-3.

0:30: Faceoff coming to Shikin's right.

0:00: That's it for regulation. We're heading to overtime. Sweden is outshooting Russia, 44-30, but Russians pull through late to stay alive. All these Canada fans here are getting their money worth --- they're rooting hard for Russia.

Second Period:

4:27 p.m.: Puck drop

18:05 left: Penalty on Russia's Anton Burdasov. Big chance for Sweden to take momentum.

16:13: Solid kill by the Russians. Sweden can't generate anything on its PP. Lindberg fans on a shot in the slot and Russia puts a scare in the Swedes with a rush that took a nice breakup by top '11 prospect Adam Larsson to stop.

SIDE NOTE: Be sure to check out Mike Harrington's preview of Team USA's semifinal showdown against Canada right here.

13:48: Sweden has lead in shots, 18-13, but Russia has control of the game's tempo. They're funneling the Swedes where they want and creating some great scoring chances. 

13:21: A couple fans in Soviet Union gear are shown on the big screen. I think everyone here was a tad creeped out by that.

12:51: GOAL, Russia. A puck ricochets off the back wall to Denis Golubev, who easily stuffs it away. Controversial, though. Sweden thought icing should have been called. Nonetheless, an absolute huge goal for the Russians considering the way goali Dmitri Shikin (20 saves) has been playing. 2-0, Russia.

9:12: Another great save by Shikin. Just stomached a hard slapper from the left circle. It's 2-0 but feels like 5-0 with the way he's playing. The Swedes look slow, lethargic.

7:48: Media timeout. Swedes are huddled up.

3:56: Still, 2-0. Sweden needs a goal bad.

3:41: Tim Erixon of Sweden has a slapper from the point hit the post. Ouch.

2:01: Puck trickles out to Adam Larsson and the Swede defenseman absolutely rips it to put his team on board. Huge momentum boost. Russia leads, 2-1.

0:52: Penalty on Sweden's Lander for holding the stick. And he's not happy. The forward screams to someone before stepping into the box.

0:00: End of the Second. 2-1, Russia. But Sweden came alive at the end of period on Larsson's tally. We're in for a great finish here.

First Period:

3:38 p.m.: The puck has dropped.

17:57 left: Patrick Cehlin, Sweden's best offensive threat, tries to jam in a puck at the doorstep but is denied by Dmitri Shikin. Great stop early.

16:34: Slow start. These two teams are feeling each other out so far. Some horseplay after a play there. Like we said here, these guys do not like each other. In other news, just spotted one Canadian fan I met yesterday. Dude drove 27 hours to watch Team Canada in Saskatoon last year. Crazy or devoted? You make the call.

13:46: Best chance of the night for Russia so far there courtesy of Vladimir Tarasenko. The forward uncorked a hard lefty wrister that Sweden's Robin Lehner absorbed in the face.

13:23: GOAL, Russia. Tarasenko strikes. Gliding in from the left side, he flipped the puck inside Lehner's short side. Looks like Lehner may have been expecting Tarasenko to try a wraparound. Instead, the Russians grab an early 1-0 lead. Tarasenko throws his body into the glass in celebration.

12:14: Acrobatic save by Shikin. Russia's goal gives up a juicy rebound to Sweden's Johan Larsson, who appears to have a WIDE open net. Hurling his body right, Shikin slams the door shut.

5:43: Russia's on the PP. Hooking penalty on Simon Bertilsson. Offical really, really wanted to signal a penalty shot but paused just couldn't. Meanwhile, an older man sleeping is shown on the Jumbo Tron.

 4:27: Tarasenko corrals a rebound and has a ton of net but Lehner wings his left glove over just in time for an incredible save. Immediately, the Swedes storm the other direction with a 2-on-1 chance. Shikin makes the stop. 

0:31: Some Allen Iverson stuff there from Sweden's Fasth. He completely juked out a Russian defenseman and sent a clearing pass to the right side. One problem. Nobody home for the tap-in. Still, 1-0. 

0:00: Apologies. Internet crashed here some 10-15 minutes ago. Back up and running. Very strong period for the Russians. Tarasenko and Shikin were the best players on the ice. The goalie Shikin has such a knack for knowing precisely where his rebounds are bouncing to and Tarasenko is all over the place. The Lightning prospect has such a feel for the game and can strike in an instant.

Should be a wild second period. I'd expect the Swedes to play a little more loose.

-----

And away we go. The lights have dimmed as we're a few moments from the puck dropping on the World Juniors semifinals where Sweden takes on Russia.

In case you missed it, the Russians won in dramatic fashion to advance last night. The Swedes, meanwhile, have arguably been the most impressive team in the tournament. They shocked Canada and have ripped through their competition elsewhere.

Of course, Sweden and Russia are familiar with each other. Last week, a desperate Russian team tried its best to intimidate the speedy Swedes and failed, 2-0. Like the makeup of Sweden a lot. They're not merely a finesse team. They'll hit you. I was really surprised by the hatred between these two countries in their preliminary matchup. Scuffles broke out all night between plays as officials took on the role of Mills Lane constantly.

There's a strong pocket of yellow jerseys in section 102, but this place is mostly occupied by the Canadian faithful so far. Should be a great appetizer before the grand daddy matchup at 7:30 p.m. Stay tuned right here.

---Tyler Dunne

A word of thanks

There's been plenty of things pro and con written and said about Buffalo during the tournament, as Gene Warner wrote about in today's paper. But the words of IIHF blogger Szymon Szemberg certainly resonate with us.

Go to this link to read Szemberg's full entry that Warner discussed (be sure to scroll down to the item headlined, "Buffalo deserves better"). Szemberg really gives it up to The News and we truly appreciate his words. The process of covering this tournament under the direction of Sports Editor Steve Jones was several months in the making and changes by the day. It's the kind of resources we've used only for events like NCAA basketball tournaments, the 1999 Stanley Cup finals or the 1993 World University Games.

So far, so good on our end. But, like the teams feel, there's a lot of hockey to be played. Keep reading. Keep logging on to the Web site and blog. The good stuff is just facing off today.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Live: Russia/Czech Republic

Third Period:

8:56 p.m.: Puck drop. Unless Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin suddenly become Czechoslovakians, a heck of a lot younger and walk through that door, this one's over.

12:00: Looks like we'll coast to a merciful finish. Russia has been tapping the brakes since the middle of the second period.

8:59: GOAL, Czech. Ahhh, the pity clap. Michal Hlinka scores for the Czech Republic and the fans here cheer on. Something like routing for the straggler in a two-mile run in track.

0:00: There you have it. Game. Russia moves on. Czech heads to the consolation. FINAL: RUSSIA 8, CZECH 3.

----

Second Period:

8 p.m.: Puck drop.

17:26 left: GOAL, Czech. Petr Straka cleans up the trash in front of the net for a much-needed goal there. 4-2, Russia.

15:32: GOAL, Russia. Weak goal. Defenseman Georgi Berdyukov just throws the puck at the net from the blue line and it sneaks through. 5-2.

13:30: GOAL, Russia. Tarasenko is for real. Another assist for the St. Louis Blues 16th overall pick. His shot bounces off the goal and a teammate buries it. 6-2. Czechs are dazed and confused. One player just broke his stick across the Russia goal.

9:38: GOAL, Russia. Or, um, sort of. That was sad. Czech defenseman scores on himself to give Russia a 7-2 lead.

9:00: GOAL, Russia. Kitsyn taps in the puck on a 2-on-1. This has become a laugher. Russia is creating offensive rushes at will. 8-2.

0:00: For nine minutes, Russia plays patty cake. Really showed some mercy the rest of the way.

----

First Period:

7:08 p.m.: Puck drop.

19:12 left: Ding! Russia's Maxim Kitsyn hits the post right off the bat.

18:07: GOAL, Czechs. Jakub Orsava has his initial shot saved, the puck ricochets back to him and he finishes it. 1-0, Czech Republic.

17:03: GOAL, Russia. Quick answer on the power play. Russia's Dmitri Orlov unleashes a slapper from the blue line to tie it up at 1-1. High-energy game out of the gate.

13:37: GOAL, Russia. They're flying now. End-to-end Russia is creating chances. An initial shot on a rush leaks through the Czech goalie's pads and Yevgeni Kuznetsov buries it. 2-1.

11:30: GOAL, Russia. Russians are starting to pour it on now. Czechs look slow, uninterested defensively. This time, Russian Vladimir Tarasenko sifts through the Czech 'D' almost untouched and drops a pass to teammate Denis Golubev at the doorstep for an easy tap-in. 3-1.

9:12: GOAL, Russia. Shorthanded, Russians are even creating offense at will. Tarasenko rips through the Czech defense and eventually finishes what he started. Orlov's shot hits the post, falls to the right doorstep and Tarasenko scores it. 4-1, Russia.

3:50: Czech defenseman crosschecks Tarasenko into the neck after the whistle. No penalty. Czechs looking desperate, trying to agitate the Russians. Tarasenko didn't take the bait, calmly skating away.

0:00: That's it for the first. Russia in complete command of this game. Sure, it's against a slow Czech team but they look like a threat tonight.

----

Win and you're in. It's as simple as that for Russia and the Czech Republic here at Dwyer Arena.

The winner secures the final quarterfinal spot in Group B and the loser heads to the relegation round. Both countries have certainly had their struggles in the top-heavy division. Russia, always a heavyweight, lost its first two games --- and even was tied with Norway, 2-2 --- before waking up. The Czech? Same story. Both teams ran into the Canada and Sweden buzzsaws.

A ton on the line tonight before a reported sold-out crowd. We're 25 minutes away. Keep it here for live updates all game.

---Tyler Dunne

 

Audio: Team Canada's Cameron, Foligno, Schenn and Schwartz

I'm still fascinated by the media coverage the Canadian junior team gets by our neighbors to the north. Press conferences for the team feel like major events.

I took part in one Thursday at HSBC Arena, as coach Dave Cameron discussed the injury to Jaden Schwartz, and his team's preparation for Friday's showdown with Sweden.

Here's audio from Cameron, Schwartz, Sabres prospect Marcus Foligno and Brayden Schenn, the tournament's leading scorer to this point.

Coach Dave Cameron

Marcus Foligno

Jaden Schwartz

Brayden Schenn

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Live: Slovakia/Switzerland

Third Period:

14:30: GOAL, Slovakia. That'll wake everybody. After a sloppy start to the period, Slovakia's Andrej Stasny scores to cut the Swiss lead to 4-3. Stasny slams his stick on the ice in celebration.

12:00: Swiss getting very sloppy. From afar, Switzerland has the better team. Faster, better goaltending, etc. But its defensemen are getting very careless with the puck. Slovaks could easily steal this one.

9:50: Niederreiter loiters into the slot untouched and gets a little too cute. Instead of shooting, he drops a pass to a teammate who cannot convert.

7:52: GOAL, Slovakia. We're all tied up at 4-4. Richard Panik roofs it on a hard drive in. Great goal.

5:54: GOAL, Swiss. Samuel Walser scores on the rebound to put his team back up by one, 5-4. Goal is reviewed and stands.

1:50: Switzerland's defense is clamping down. Not many open lanes for Slovaks out there.

0:59: Suddenly, Slovakia looks tired, uninspired. Your entire tourney is on the line, fellas.

0:30: And there you go. Game, set, match. Pestoni slices throught two Slovak defenders for an empty-netter. 6-4, Swiss.

0:00: That's all from here. Switzerland wins and should have enough points to reach the quarterfinal round. Wasn't pretty but they'll take it.

Second Period:

20:00: Surprise, surprise. Slovaks make a goalie change. Riecicky is on the bench. In is backup Juraj Holly.

18:31: GOAL, Slovakia. We have a game again. Slovak forward Marek Hrivik scored to cut the Swiss lead back to one, 3-2.

11:39: Tremendous individual effort by Switzerland defenseman Nicholas Steiner. Slovakia created a 2-on-1 inside the blue line and, somehow, Steiner sprawled out to poke away the puck. This just two minutes after the Slovaks botched another 2-on-1. With a wide-open net, Tomas Jurco couldn't score on the rebound. The red light behind the glass even came on in anticipation of a sure goal. Still 3-2 here.

9:45: GOAL, Swiss. Niederreiter sends a missile in from the left circle to give his team a 4-2 lead.

5:54: Swiss penalty on Tristan Scherwey for cross-checking. Slovaks have the edge in shots, 20-19, and have dominated most of the period.

2:54: GOAL, Swiss. But it's disallowed. Easy call there. Another player clearly in the crease.

0:00: Slovakia plays a much better period of hockey but still down two goals. Not easy to swallow.

First Period:

19:19: And we're off. Swiss in red. Slovaks in white. Swiss Gregory Hofmann rips a hard shot from the left circle that Riecicky stops.

17:05: A little trickeration. Switerland's Reto Schappi drops a no-look pass to Niederreiter behind him and the forward fires a wrister that's saved. Look for Niederreiter to shoot early and often today. Swiss star only had three shots in his team's shutout loss to Finland.

15:10: Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz poke-checks away a good Slovak chance right in front. After a pair of penalties, we'll have some 4-on-4 action now.

11:45: GOAL, Swiss. Puck careens off back wall, out in front and Gregory Hofmann (sounds like a good realtor name, eh?) stuffs it home. 1-0, Switzerland.

10:35: GOAL, Slovakia. And the Slovaks answer immediately. Working behind the net -- a Swiss player jamming his stick in his game --- Michael Vandas somehow flips the puck to Peter Sisovsky in front. Sisovsky scores it and we have a game. Both teams have picked up the tempo after a sluggish start.

8:10: GOAL, Swiss. Wow. Never seen anything like this before. This tops Derek Plante's goal on Ron Tugnutt by a long shot. Swiss defenseman Dominik Schlumpf simply flings a half-hearted shot from the red center line at the goalie in the the middle of a change.....and the puck trickles through Riecicky's five-hole. Just an atrocious goal to let in. That was youth soccer-esque. 2-1, Switzerland. Poor goalie gets a resounding mock cheer after his next save.

1:57: Switzerland will finish the period on the power play after Inti Pestoni beats a Slovak defender and is held.

1:43: Move aside, Riecicky. A new goat is in town. Shorthanded, Slovakia's Juraj Majdan breaks free, is taken down and is promptly rewarded with a penalty shot. Only, on his attempt, Majdan completely whiffes. Maybe this ice needs a Zamboni fast, but that was just hard to watch. Again, HSBC Arena breaks into laughter.

1:08: GOAL, Swiss. Sven Bartschi connects on a slap shot to put his team up, 3-1. After those two Slovakia blunders, the score feels a lot worse than that too.

0:00: Switzerland plays well, sure. But Slovakia sure is trying its best to give this game away.

----

After an uplifting overtime win to begin the tournament, Slovakia took a harsh plunge to reality against Team USA Tuesday in a 6-1 loss. Today, the Slovaks will face a Swiss team that's been up and down thus far. After hanging on to beat Germany, Switzerland was shut out, 4-0, by Finland.

In short, urgency is high for both teams today here at HSBC Arena. The player to watch is no doubt Swiss captain Nino Niederreiter. The New York Islanders' fifth overall pick in the 2010 entry draft struggled big time in his team's loss to Finald. Coach Richard Jost said Niederreiter was pressing.

Really, can you blame him? Nino is the highest drafted Swiss ever. A year ago, he was named a tournament all-star at the World Juniors. Only 16 Swiss players have made it to the NHL. For a 19 year old, he's facing a lot of pressure.

For Switzerland to get back into the medal picture, Niederreiter needs to produce against a reeling Slovak bunch. For Slovakia, goalie Dominik Riecicky needs to recapture his 47-save magic from a few days ago. Keep it right here for updates all game gang. We're roughly 20 minutes away.

---Tyler Dunne

 

Canada's Schwartz has broken ankle

Canadian forward Jaden Schwartz will miss the rest of the World Juniors with a broken ankle. Team Canada coach Dave Cameron confirmed that diagnosis Thursday afternoon in his meeting with the media at HSBC Arena.

Schwartz was hurt during Canada's 7-2 win over the Czech Republic. He initially left the game in the first period, though he later returned and scored a power-play goal to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Canada, of course, will also be without Sabres draft pick Zack Kassian for Friday's showdown against Sweden. Kassian will be serving the second game of his two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Czech defenseman Petr Senkerik on Tuesday.

Cameron also said that defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward Cody Eakin, both of whom missed Wednesday's 10-1 win over Norway, will return to the lineup against the Swedes.

We'll have a separate blog post up with audio from Cameron, Schwartz and Sabres draft pick Marcus Foligno.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Kassian suspension now includes Friday's game vs. Sweden

The IIHF today gave Canadian forward and Sabres prospect Zack Kassian an additional game suspension for his hit Tuesday night on Czech Republic forward Petr Senkerik.

Kassian was by rule suspended for tonight's game against Norway after receiving a match penalty for a hit to the head but IIHF judge Dan Marouelli determined the hit warranted an additional game. That means Kassian will miss Friday's marquee showdown against Sweden.

"We all looked at the hit and thought it was a little bit cleaner than they portrayed but at the same time Zack's a big boy. When [he] hits someone, it's going to end up in a rough cause but we heard the other guy was OK and that's what mattered most," fellow Sabres prospect and Kassian linemate Marcus Foligno said after learning the news.

On did Kassian's past, last year's 20-game suspension by the OHL, play a role in the additional game:

"All I know is the IIHF comes down harder on head shots," Foligno said. "That's what I've learned in this tournament. ... Kassian's hit --- I don't really know what the difference was with some other head shots that they've had in earlier games. I know there were two head shots in the first game between Germany and Switzerland."

Below is audio of Foligno from this morning's pre-game session with the media at Team Canada's hotel. The Canadians canceled their morning skate before tonight's clash with Norway.

IIHF also announced Slovakia’s Marek Marincin will sit out a three-game suspension for his hit to the head and neck area on U.S.A. forward Jason Zucker with 7:51 left in the third period of Tuesday night's game. Slovakia’s Peter Hrasko was given two games for his hit to the head and neck area on American forward Jerry D’Amigo.

Marcus Foligno:

--Miguel Rodriguez

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