CALGARY – In the last game of the 2012 Relegation Round, the United States edged Switzerland 2-1. The U.S. finishes seventh, while the Swiss will settle for eighth.
It is the worst finish for the underachieving Americans at the World Juniors since 1999, when they finished eighth. That was also the only other time they played in the Relegation Round. The U.S. came seventh in 1977, 1980, and 1990.
The Swiss also took a step backwards after coming fourth in 2010 and fifth in 2011. They were relegated in 2008 after a ninth-place finish in the Czech Republic.
The teams exchanged goals rapidly in the first period. Austin Czarnik got the Americans on the board unassisted at 11:28, but just over three minutes later, Switzerland made it 1-1 on Gaëtan Haas’s third goal of this tournament. Kevin Gravel promptly restored the U.S. lead at 16:15.
And then the goalies ensured there would be no more scoring, even though the Americans peppered the Swiss cage.
With less than six minutes in the second, Swiss netminder Tim Wolf lunged cross-crease to make a great save on U.S. forward Brandon Saad and keep his team close.
Eight minutes into the third, American goalie Jack Campbell likewise stood his ground when Lino Martschini skated into the slot and let a zinger go from the hash marks.
The Swiss got a final chance at the equalizer when Bill Arnold was sent off for hooking with 26 seconds left. But even with Wolf pulled for the extra attacker, there was nothing doing.
The Americans outshot Switzerland 42-22.
Prior to the game, both teams had already secured their spots in the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Ufa, Russia.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)