Switzerland meets the USA in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Thursday and tasted blood after the outstanding group stage.
The times when Switzerland only allowed itself outsider chances against the USA are long gone. After winning the group, Patrick Fischer’s team is tackling the quarter-final task full of self-confidence – and with the clear claim that number 4 in the current IIHF world rankings should only be a way station on the way to further successes.
The Swiss lost the last two duels at the World Championships in 2014 (in the group phase) and 2015 (in the quarter-finals). Despite 5 World Championship bronze medals in the last 10 years, the young US team is not necessarily the first-named contender for the title in Finland. In addition, the course of the current tournament suggests a comparison with 2013, when Switzerland stringed up 9 wins in Stockholm and stormed into the final with an impressive 3-0 win against the USA.
Opposing coach full of praise
The fact that the signs have changed is also evident in the interviews before the game. “Switzerland is probably playing the best ice hockey of all the teams at this World Cup. It’s going to be a huge task for us,” said American coach David Quinn. Quinn identified straightforward, fast-paced ice hockey, a well-coached team and strong goalies as strengths. “You can see why they won the group.”
Captain Seth Jones holds his teammates accountable. “We have to be ready from the start and fight back physically. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Fischer: Respect for the USA, but don’t be afraid
On the other hand, Patrick Fischer is careful not to downplay Americans. The team, which is on average two years younger than Switzerland, has “not yet much experience in such situations”. But youthfulness can also become a trump card. “The Americans are ready when it counts,” says Fischer.
Despite the practically flawless preliminary round, the coach still saw potential for improvement in his own team. The key is to stay calm, keep your emotions under control and act in a disciplined manner. “Up until now, every team has had trouble with our speed. I’m sure that will be the case with the Americans too.”
Kurashev and the reunion with Bordeleau
For Philipp Kurashev, the quarterfinals will be special in two respects. Not only does he meet Jones, who is sitting next to him in the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room. He has known Thomas Bordeleau, son of Sébastien Bordeleau, who was active in Switzerland for many years, since childhood. “His father was still playing in Bern at the time, my father was a coach. We trained together,” Kurashev recalls.
Bordeleau, at the age of 20 one of the young guns in the US team, has only good memories of this time and of his childhood in Switzerland in general. Even if his knowledge of German has almost disappeared, contact with Kurashev has not broken off. “Of course I followed his career. It will definitely be a special game for me.”
Switzerland – USA live on SRF
You can follow the quarter-finals between Switzerland and the USA on Thursday from 7 p.m. live on SRF zwei and in the stream in the Sport App. The game starts at 7:20 p.m.