• Swiss edge Austrians in OT

    From IIHF News@1:266/404 to All on Sat May 5 16:46:07 2018
    Switzerland blew a two-goal lead, but Enzo Corvi scored the 3-2 overtime winner
    against Austria in Saturday's combative tournament opener for the neighboring rivals.

    At 3:18, Corvi took a drop pass from Nino Niederreiter, skated around sprawling
    Austrian defenceman Mario Altmann, and fooled goalie Bernhard Starkbaum, tucking the puck inside the near post from

    behind the goal line.

    Niederreiter, who has played with Corvi for time since their junior days in Chur, and Gaetan Haas also scored for Switzerland. Dominic Zwerger and Manuel Ganahl replied for the newly promoted


    In 5-on-5 hockey, we played fine, said Swiss captain Raphael Diaz. "All our lines did well. Individual mistakes, however, gave us problems."

    Leonardo Genoni, the Swiss NLA's top goalie in every major statistical category
    this season, won his duel with the veteran Austrian starter Starkbaum. Switzerland outshot Austria 41-19.

    We can be proud of the work ethic we had, said Starkbaum. "We battled pretty hard and came back to tie a 2-0 deficit. It was too bad that we couldn't get the second point in overtime or a shoot-

    out but that's history now. We have to get focused for the next game tomorrow."

    Remarkably, this was the first time Switzerland has beaten Austria at the IIHF World Championship since 1993 in Germany (5-1). The Swiss have upset powerhouses like Russia and Canada in the new

    millennium, but sometimes struggle against less-famous neighboring nations.Previously, the Austrians earned two ties and two wins since 1993, including a 4-3 shootout victory in the Czech Republic

    in 2015 on Konstantin Komarek's goal the last time they met. (To put things in full perspective, Switzerland has won four straight Olympic meetings with Austria, and the only time Austria took a

    point was the inaugural 4-4 tie in St. Moritz in 1928.)

    Switzerland isn't favoured to come close to 2013's shocking silver medal this year - they finished sixth in 2017 - but this was an important victory to kick off the Worlds, even if it wasn't

    textbook execution. With their red uniforms, they're wearing white helmets instead of their usual black helmets. Yet as things got chippy, Austrian fans would have argued that Patrick Fischer's

    players were the black-hatted villains here.

    Early in the first period, Austria's Alexander Rauchenwald, whose surname literally translates to "smoking forest," was sent off for tripping, but his team got a hot chance. Genoni foiled Austria's

    Patrick Spannring with his glove on a shorthanded break.

    Outshooting the Austrians 10-5 in the opening stanza, the Swiss carried the play, and they broke through at 18:28. Starkbaum had little chance as Nieddereiter and Corvi took advantage of an

    Austrian defensive breakdown, and they played catch before Nieddereiter one-timed it past the goalie's glove.

    In the second period, the Swiss went up 2-0 at 4:14. Forechecking effectively, Tristan Scherwey threw the puck behind the net for Haas, and he stepped out to roof a backhander past Starkbaum's


    At the twelve-minute mark, Austrian defenceman Steven Strong was injured on an apparent knee-on-knee collision with Sven Andrighetto in the corner to Starkbaum's right. The crowd clapped

    sympathetically as paramedics took Strong off on a stretcher.

    Andrighetto, a 25-year-old forward coming off his best NHL season with the Colorado Avalanche, was ejected with a five-minute major and a match penalty.

    Genoni did his best under Austria's power-play pressure. His glove denied Clemens Unterweger on a rising wrister with Ganahl causing havoc in front. But Genoni couldn't do it all.

    Austria cut the deficit to 2-1 at 14:50, as Zwerger snared a rebound and tucked
    it inside the goalie's left post. It was the first career World Championship goal for this 21-year-old forward, just

    named the Swiss NL's rookie of the year with HC Ambri-Piotta.

    At 2-0 we were in control, but then we took that major penalty and it all changed, said Haas. "The Austrians scored on the power play and got back in the

    Tempers flared after Austria's Daniel Woger laid a blind-side hit on Niederreiter and was called for boarding. On the ensuing power play, Starkbaum made a stunning stick save on Niederreiter,

    reaching back to deflect it away when the Minnesota Wild star had a wide-open net in the dying seconds of the middle frame.

    In the third period, Ganahl's initiative yielded Austria's 2-2 goal at 6:28. Initially, the Austrian assistant captain got the puck loose with a hit on Switzerland's Dean Kukan on the forecheck,

    and then he positioned himself by the net to convert Peter Schneider's cross-crease backhanded feed.

    In the third period an individual mistake cost us a goal, but we still had enough chances to win the game in regulation, Haas said. "Luckily we won it in the end."

    As the Austrian fans behind Starkbaum's net picked up their rhythmic chanting, the Swiss players redoubled their efforts. Starkbaum denied Joel Vermin twice from the right side on a dangerous-

    looking rush. Shots in the third period favored Switzerland 16-5.

    We moved up from the Division I and every game for us is so hard, said Woger. "The only way we can win is to battle hard for 60 minutes. It's the only way we
    can survive."

    There's little time to rest and reflect for either team. On Sunday, Austria faces the Russians, while Switzerland battles Slovakia.

    We're not afraid of Russia, said Starkbaum. "We know that they have a great team, a lot of individual skills and a great chemistry. But we have to play our
    way. We have to fight, to block shots,

    play hard and then we'll see what's coming."

    They are all superstars in our sport, Woger added. "We know them from the TV, from the NHL. It's fun, it's a great opportunity for us to play against those guys."


    --- SBBSecho 3.04-Win32
    * Origin: TequilaMockingbird Online - Toms River, NJ (1:266/404)