International Ice Hockey Federation

Swiss win in a shootout

Swiss win in a shootout

Meier scores winner after 65 tense minutes

Published 31.03.2017 22:53 GMT-4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Swiss win in a shootout
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN - MARCH 31: Switzerland's Evelina Raselli #14 celebrates with her teammate Phoebe Staenz #88 after scoring a late tying goal against team Czech Republic during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Christine Meier scored the only goal in a ten-shot shootout to give Switzerland a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in the first game of the 2017 Women's Worlds.

Meier put a nice deke on Klara Peslarova and tucked the puck in the far side for the win.

"Alina Muller took the shot before me, and I noticed [the goalie] was really open on the left side," Meier described. "At first, I thought about shooting there as well, but she covered the side a bit better, so I went to my backhand. At least it went in!"

Much of the emotion in the game lay in the fact that these two teams--almost the same rosters, in fact--played for a spot in the 2018 Olympics just last month. The Swiss emerged victorious, 4-1 on February 12, before a wild crowd in Arosa, earning a trip to PyeongChang at the expense of the Czechs.

"It was probably easier for us to play them today because we could relax knowing we had beaten them," Swiss forward Alina Muller said. "We were able to relax because we've reached our goal of making the Olympics. But the Czechs played well and checked us closely."

Czech Tereza Vanisova, the goalscorer this afternoon, agreed. "There was more pressure on us last month because we lost to them for the Olympics," she said. "That was very had to accept, so today was much easier to play."

Today's game was decided by special teams, even though neither side was particularly effective with the extra man until late in the game. Indeed, both teams had legnthy 5-on-3 situations without creating much in the way of scoring chances. 

The game turned late in the second period during a Swiss power play, but it wasn't the odd-man situation that created the goal. The Czechs cleared the puck down the ice, and in a hurry to move it back up, goaltender Florence Schelling skated nearly to the blue line and fired a corss-ice pass that was intercepted by Tereza Vanisova.

Vanisova eluded a check and backhanded the puck into the wide-open cage from well out, capitalizing on a rare error from Schelling.

"She wanted to make a pass to her defence, but I saw it and skated in between to get the puck," Vanisova said.

"It didn't worry us at all," Muller said. "She's a great goalie, and we knew we would score one for her."

Schelling was starting her 22nd straight game for the Swiss, playing every minute of every game since April 3, 2013, when Sophie Anthamatten got the start against Canada. Since then Schelling has played the last three games of that 2013 Women's Worlds, every game in Sochi, every game at the 2015 and 2016 WW, every game at last month's Olympic qualification, and today's game. 

"I didn't know that," Schelling enthused. "That's a pretty neat fact."

The first period was tense but without many great chances, both teams firing ten mostly harmless shots on goal. In the second, the Czechs had a two-man advantage for 64 seconds but couldn't move the puck around crisply enough to free up a good shot.

Later, it was the Swiss with 48 seconds with two extra skaters, but they, too, failed to test the goalie, Klara Peslarova.

It looked like the Czechs would hang on for a 1-0 win, but late in the third Simona Studentova took a hooking penalty, and the Swiss struck back. Muller made a sensational pass through traffic right on the tape for Evelina Raselli to tip in at 16:15, tying the score and sending the game to overtime and a shootout.

"The Czechs knew that I was usually passing back to Lara [Stalder] at the point, so I tried something different and Evelina was open," Muller said. "I'm glad it worked."


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