International Ice Hockey Federation

Swiss stay up

Muller's magic propels 3-1 win vs. Czechs

Published 07.04.2017 15:02 GMT-4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Swiss stay up
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN - APRIL 7: Switzerland's Aina Muller #25 celebrates after scoring a first period goal against the Czech Republic's Bianka Skodova #1 while Aneta Tejralova #2 looks on during relegation round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The Swiss battled back from one game down to win the last two of the best-of-three and remain in the top pool for 2019. Alina Muller had a goal and two assists.

The Czechs, though, might not be relegated as the IIHF is considering expanding the top pool of the Women's Worlds to ten teams. A decision will be made during Congress in May in Cologne during the men's World Championship.

"We can't be very happy with seventh place," Muller said after. "We wanted to reach the quarters. All three games against the Czechs were tough, but I think we showed we are a good team."

"I'm happy with the way we played in the end," said goalie Florence Schelling, who was excellent in stopping 18 of 19 shots today. "Being down 1-0 in a series isn't fun, but we battled back. I'm proud to be part of this team."

You knew Muller was going to have a good game from early on. On her second shift she sprung linemate Lara Stalder clear for a break, but Stalder couldn't beat Blanka Skodova. No matter. A few minutes later Muller was doing her thing again.

This time she chased down a loose puck along the right wing and fired a perfect saucer pass to Dominque Ruegg, hustling to the goal. Ruegg got her stick on the pass and tipped it off the post and in at 7:01. It was just the kind of start the Swiss needed.

Two and a half minutes later, Muller scored one of the nicest goals of this championships. Skating up the middle alone, her teammates on a line change, she put on a burst of speed as she crossed the Czech blue line, split the defence, and roofed a great shot over Skodova.

"I saw a hole between the defence and I had good speed," she said. "I was able to put the puck between them and managed to lift the puck up over the goalie as I fell."

The Czechs didn't register their first shot on goal until 11:28, but they made it count. Aneta Ledlova lost the puck on a rush, but Tereza Vanisova followed the play and got the loose puck. She then drilled a great shot past the outstretched glove of Schelling to cut the lead in half.

The Czechs dominated the second and were unlucky not to tie the score. They had several great chances and only some nice goaltending from Schelling--and lack of touch around the net by the Czechs--prevented the game from being tied. After two periods, though, the Swiss still clung to a 2-1 lead.

Early in the third, the Swiss got that precious insurance goal, on a power play. Muller fed a pass to Stalder at the point, and her hard blast went all the way.

And now the Swiss prepare for PyeongChang. After a surprising bronze in Sochi, more might be expected of them, but women's hockey is changing fast. "Going into Sochi was different," Schelling noted. "We were in the top group, so we didn't have to win a game to make the quarter finals. And at that point, it's 50-50. But this time, we're in the lower group, so we have to qualify for the quarters next year. And although we've improved so much, so has all of women's hockey. You can see that in every game."