International Ice Hockey Federation

Swiss win wait

Muller's hatter downs stubborn Germany

Published 03.04.2017 15:03 GMT-4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Swiss win wait
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN - APRIL 3: Switzerland's Lara Stalder #7 scores on Germany's Franziska Alba #95 to make it 1-0 in the first period during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Switzerland got just the start it needed thanks to three goals in a 3:43 span of the first period. Alina Muller finished with a hat trick for the victors.

But now the players must wait to see if tomorrow's game will be a quarter-finals elimination game or the first in a best-of-three relegation game.

Switzerland now has five points in the Group B standings, one behind Germany, which lost for the first time. Sweden has three and the Czechs one. If Sweden wins tonight against the Czechs--in regulation or extra time--it will advance to the playoffs.

If the Swedes lose, in any manner, Switzerland will be in the quarter-finals and the Swedes will be in the relegation. Either way, the Czechs will be the other team fighting for survival, as even a win tonight can't vault them over the Swiss.

Germany has already qualified for the quarter-finals, which begin tomorrow.

"We can't be that happy after the win, but we did what we could do," Muller said. "Now we can only hope that the Czechs win."

"We wanted to finish with nine points in the round robin," German defenceman Ronja Renika said. "But we didn't play our best hockey in the firts 20 minutes. The Swiss put on a lot of pressure and  played very well, but we showed some character in the third period."

The Swiss scored five goals in the first, but only theee counted. One was ruled kicked in and another batted in with a hand, but in between those calls came three legitimate goals that gave the Swiss just the start they needed.

The impetus came from the potent combination of Muller and linemate Lara Stalder. Muller had four points (3+1) while Stalder had three (a goal and two assists). Muller is now tied with American Brianna Decker for the tournament lead in goals (3) and points (5).

"It's only this year that we've started to play together," Stalder said. "We're similar players because we like to pass, and we have good speed. We communicate a lot and have good chemistry."

The Swiss opened the scoring at 11:22 thanks to a perfectly-executed set play. Muller won a faceoff deep in her own end back to defenceman Christine Meier, and she hit Stalder with a perfect breakaway pass. Stalder drilled a clean shot over the glove of Franziska Albl.

"We've practised that a fair bit, so it was nice to see it work," Stalder noted.

Just 38 seconds later, Muller got her first of two in the period. Stalder made a nice pass to her, and Muller made no mistake.

"I know when she has the puck, I have to be ready," Muller added. "She's a great passer, so I'm always aware I could get the puck."

Three minutes later, Muller connected again off a Stalder feed, this time on a power play. Muller's one-timer off a nice cross-ice pass was perfect, and the 3-0 score was just the start the Swiss needed.

Marie Delarbre cut the lead to 3-1 just 23 seconds into the third. Skating in over the blue line and facing two defenders, she let go a quick shot that beat a surprised Florence Schelling over the glove.

The Swiss were on their heels most of the third, and four successive penalties didn't help. The Germans had two 5-on-3 situations. The first lasted but 14 seconds and was of little consequence, but the second was 1:09 in length and produced their second goal.

Anna-Maria Fiegert drifted a point shot that went through a screen and beat Schelling to the far side at 15:22, mking for a much tighter ending than the Swiss had bargained for.

With the net empty, however, Muller scored her first Women's Worlds hat-trick goal with exactly 52 seconds left, ensuring the win.