U.S. SMOTHERS SWISS, BOOKS SPOT IN SEMIS AT WJAC
JASON LA ROSE
TRURO, N.S. - Tyler Madden and Curtis Hall provided the offence early, scoring first-period goals to help the United States to a 3-1 quarter-final win over Switzerland on Wednesday at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge.
The Americans are back in the semifinals for the 11th time in as many appearances at the tournament; they will face off against Russia in the first semi on Thursday afternoon (3:30 p.m. AT).
While the U.S. had relied on offence to beat the Swiss in the quarters in each of the last two years - winning by a combined 16-1 - it was all about the defence this time, with Switzerland managing just 15 shots on goal.
Madden was first onto the scoresheet, tapping in a perfect cross-crease pass from Sam Hentges at 12:25, and Hall parked himself in front and got a piece of a Graham Lillibridge point shot with 18 seconds left in the opening frame to make it 2-0 with a power-play goal.
After the U.S. held a one-sided 17-5 advantage in shots on goal in the first period, both teams struggled to create offence in the second, recording just five shots apiece.
Jeremi Gerber made good on an early opportunity for the Swiss, finishing a two-on-one with Kyen Sopa just 2:02 into the middle stanza to make it a one-goal game.
Switzerland had its chances - including two early power plays in the third period - but couldn't find the equalizer, and Paul Cotter knocked in a feed from Lillibridge with 6:29 to go to give the U.S. breathing room.
The loss sends the Swiss to the fifth-place game for the fourth year in a row. They will take on the loser of the all-Canadian quarter-final between East and West on Friday afternoon (3:30 p.m. AT).