PENTICTON, B.C. – Nicholas Steiner scored the game-winner on a power play 1:45 into overtime as Switzerland made its World Junior A Challenge debut a memorable one, earning a 5-4 victory over Canada West on Monday night.
The Swiss took advantage of a delay of game penalty against Canada West’s Dylan Walchuk with just 9.8 remaining in regulation time to earn the victory in front of more than 2,200 pro-Canadian fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, Canada West mounted a furious comeback in the final 20 minutes, erasing a 4-2 deficit with 12 minutes to go. Penticton native Mark MacMillan, playing in front of family and friends, scored twice in the third as Canada West rallied to earn a single point.
Winnipeg-born Swiss forward Ryan McGregor got the scoring party started with just over six minutes to go in the first period, beating Canada West goaltender Matthew Krahn, and goals from Raphael Kuonen and Gregory Hofmann pushed that lead to three with goals 4:14 apart late in the second.
Needing a quick start in the third period, Canada West finally got on the board when Travis St. Denis pushed a rebound past Swiss goaltender Lukas Meili just 69 seconds into the frame, and MacMillan drove the net for a rebound goal of his own just over three minutes later to ignite the SOEC crowd.
But before the MacMillan goal could be announced, the Swiss restored their two-goal lead thanks to Matthias Rossi, who snuck a wrist shot from the wing under Krahn’s arm.
MacMillan’s second of the period pulled the Canadian side to within one again, and a gorgeous three-way passing play, finished off by Reed Linaker, brought the crowd to its feet and the game to even terms at 4-4.
With overtime looming, Walchuk inadvertently cleared the puck over the glass, and Steiner capitalized late in the 4-on-3 overtime power play, blasting a slow slap shot past Krahn.
The Swiss will be right back to action Tuesday when they face Russia in the late game (7:30 p.m. PT), while Canada West will have a day to regroup before taking on the Russians in Wednesday’s preliminary round finale (7:30 p.m. PT).
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)