Switzerland and Sweden faced each other in the first game of the two ”all top four” semi-finals of the WFC 2020 in Hartwall Arena on Friday afternoon.
Sweden came in with a comfortable victory over Norway (8-2) in the quarter-finals. Switzerland came in with a perfect record up to that point and an even larger victory over Estonia (9-0) in the quarter finals. A lot of fans had made their way to Helsinki and at the arena for the final weekend for both teams, all expecting for their team to reach the final on Saturday.
Sweden moved ahead in the first
The game began in a somewhat calm fashion with both teams defending well. At about 11 minutes played, #97 Michael Schiess for Switzerland made a terrible mistake trying to defend a Sweden attack: a careless swipe for the loose ball in front of the goal and the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Half a minute after, there is a free hit on the left side of the rink on their attacking zone for Sweden. A beautiful set play from Sweden for their second goal. Sweden’s #27 Robin Nilsberth and #10 Albin Sjögren assisted and the captain #14 Tobias Gustafsson passing play and a one-timer.
Switzerland got a power-play opportunity halfway through the first, at about 14 minutes in, but were unable to capitalize on it.
Switzerland takes control of the game in the second period
Switzerland came in to the second period energized. A beautiful 2-1 goal just after killing a penalty for #6 Claudio Laely with a nice setup by #21 Paolo Riedi. Shortly after, the Swiss goalie #30 Pascal Maier robbed #7 Kim Nilsson’s try on a wide open opportunity in front of the goal.
Switzerland continued the game by controlling the ball and created chances. Swiss fans seemed to dominated the stands after the Swiss goal. They outnumbered Swedish fans in the stands by just a little but sounded like there were three times more of them compared to the Swedes. The Finns in the stands seemed to root for Switzerland too. The crowd got even louder after #57 Tim Braillard gets a chance at about 30 minutes played. The power break comes at a good time for the Swedes.
Sweden’s #14 Gustafsson got a decent look on #30 Maier at 34 minutes played from the left. The Swiss came up with a few good chances on the other end but Sweden’s goaltender #30 Jonathan Edling seemed to be on his best game as well. The second half of the second period seemed to be more evenly matched.
More mistakes for the Swiss in the third period
Sweden started the 3rd period rejuvenated. Switzerland won the second period and controlled the ball for for the first few minutes of the third. The Swedish defense looked impenetrable though. About three minutes in, #57 Tim Braillard made a mistake receiving a pass and #7 Kim Nilsson punished right away although with a lucky bounce and made the score 3-1.
Not long after, Sweden built a play on the counter attack. Sweden’s #2 Johan Samuelsson scored after the ball bounced to the back post after an unintentional or intentional miss from #9 Alexander Galante Carlström. The battle in the stands seemed to tilt towards Sweden a little bit as well at this point. The Swiss fans looked a little devastated.
The game continued pretty evenly matched for the remainder of the 3rd. Switzerland had to press high and take risks to try and tie the game. That opened up opportunities for Sweden to add to the score and #6 Casper Backby made it 5-1 at the 56th minute. At the 58th minute, #9 Galante Carlström made it 6-1 which ended up being the final score.
A good fight from Switzerland but big mistakes were made at important moments which didn’t help them against the behemoths Sweden.
– The third goal really made the difference for us today. After that we felt really strong, said the Swedish captain #14 Tobias Gustafsson in the post-match interview.
Sweden advanced to the final which is to be played on Saturday. The opponent was to be determined in the following game between Finland and Czechia on Friday night.