LIBEREC, Czech Republic – Switzerland ended the U20 World Championship with a moral victory after winning their final game against Denmark, 5-2.
The outcome did nothing to avert the 2009 fate of both teams, who are each relegated to next year’s Division I. The loss left Denmark winless in its first-ever appearance at the top division, while Switzerland finished with four points, after today’s win and a shootout loss against the Finns in the preliminary round.
From the first puck drop, Switzerland dominated the Danes, but could not get a solid lead through the first 40 minutes. Switzerland out-shot the Danes 18-2 in the first period alone, and missed a penalty shot in the opening of the second period. It was just that kind of game for the Swiss – and that kind of tournament. In fact, Switzerland had to settle for a 1-1 tie at the end of the first period after the Danes scored on one of their two shots during the stanza.
The teams exchanged goals in the second period after Lukas Stoop missed a penalty shot 1:43 into the period. Switzerland again dominated the offensive zone, but couldn’t find its offensive firepower. Aurellio Lemm closed the period on a high note, giving the Swiss their first lead with a power-play goal, his second tally of the period.
Switzerland built on the momentum from the goal and scored early in the third period to make it a two-goal game. The goal essentially secured the first Swiss win of the championship as Denmark couldn’t overcome the deficit. Switzerland's Roman Schlagenhauf scored one last power-play goal in the waning minutes of the game, brining the final to 5-2.
Next year the Swiss will try to force a quick return to the elite level in a group with Belarus, Slovenia, Poland, France and Estonia.
Having sniffed the experience of the elite level Team Denmark is one of the top contenders in Division I next year. With a large number of players still eligible the Danes will have to shake off Austria, Norway, Hungary, Ukraine and Italy.
Slovakia - Kazakhstan: 8-0
Patrik Lusnak and David Skokan each scored twice for Slovakia in an 8-0 drubbing against Kazakhstan.
It was clear from the first puck drop that the Kazakhs were the superior team in the relegation round, as they were never in danger of surrendering a point against Kazakhstan. Slovakia jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period and added another three goals in the second, putting the game well out of reach before the final period even started.
Half of the Slovak's eight goals came on the power play as Kazakhstan goaltender Mikhail Smolnikov let in eight goals on 46 shots. The Kazakhs were without goaltender Sergei Rudolf, who was injured in the team's last game. In an odd twist, he was replaced by defenseman Alexandr Kurshuk, who had to fill in as the back-up goaltender for the last game.
Both teams will return to the top U20 division next season. Slovakia finished the tournament in seventh place after winning the relegation round, while Kazakhstan ends in eighth place.