Swiss outscore Austria in thriller
by Lucas AYKROYD|12 MAY 2024
Swiss captain Roman Josi (#90) celebrates with teammates after his first-period goal in a wild 6-5 win over neighbouring Austria at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Prague.

After trailing twice, Switzerland fought back to beat underdog Austria 6-5 in an exciting see-saw battle at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on Sunday night.

Nico Hischier, the captain of the New Jersey Devils, completed his hat trick on a wraparound for the winner with 51 seconds left. It was Switzerland's fifth power play goal of the game.

"For sure not the way we wanted to play that game," said Switzerland's Christian Marti after avoiding an Austrian upset. "I think the three points for the win matters the most. But there's lots to learn and talk about and do better next game."

This was a big outing for Switzerland's NHL leaders. Hischier totalled four points. Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi, also wearing the "C" with the national team, had two goals and two assists.

"Obviously Hischier scored a massive goal at the end there, and the power play is always a big part," Josi said. "So we're happy it worked tonight."

Switzerland outshot Austria 36-18. Through two Group A games apiece, the Swiss remain perfect and Austria winless.

Austria's Lukas Haudum scored twice on the power play and Clements Unterweger had a goal and two assists. The Austrians deserved credit for tying it up twice after the Swiss took their first lead mid-game.

"The effort was there," said Austrian captain Thomas Raffl. "I think we started on time. We knew we were going to play a good opponent. At the end of the day, we just took a few too many penalties."

Switzerland’s classic cross-border rivalry is with Germany. But this had the makings of a good grudge match too, and not just because of the noisy rival fan bases with 13,512 on hand in Peague.

Both Austrian head coach Roger Bader and his assistant Arno del Curto are Swiss-born, the latter being a longtime Davos legend with six Swiss titles as their bench boss. And five Austrian players skate for Swiss NLA clubs: forwards Dominic Zwerger (HC Ambri-Piotta), Benjamin Baumgartner (SC Bern), and Vinzenz Rohrer (ZSC Lions Zurich), plus defenders Bernd Wolf (EHC Kloten) and Kilian Zundel (HC Ambri-Piotta).

"It's like in league play when a big team plays a smaller team," Marti said. "For them, it's like Game Seven all the time, and we have to match that intensity as well."

The fired-up Austrians got a dream start at 4:15. Marco Rossi won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Unterweger and the KAC Klagenfurt rearguard powered a perfect drive past Swiss starter Reto Berra.

Heartened, Austria pressed forward. Paul Huber jammed one in at the side of the net at 14:33 to make it 2-0.

However, Bader's boys took back-to-back minors, including a mental lapse with too many players on the ice, and would pay the price.

Just four seconds into the ensuing 5-on-3 power play, Josi emulated what Austria did on its opening goal. Off the faceoff, the 2020 Norris Trophy winner blew a rising slapper past Austrian goalie David Kickert at 15:48.

Things heated up early in the second period.

Haudum put Austria up 3-1 at 1:48 on the power play. But Switzerland struck back just 38 seconds later as Josi went cross-ice to Hischier with his stick on the ice in the crease.

Mid-game, Switzerland enjoyed a second 5-on-3 and once again capitalized. During a goalmouth scramble, Josi jumped in to tie it up on a rebound at 9:30.

"For me, it's the first World Championship with Josi," said Marti. "I knew he's a good player, but it's unbelievable how good he is. When he's on the ice and you see his body language it's...I'm almost speechless. It's crazy."

Just 13 seconds later, Switzerland took its first lead on the subsequent 5-on-4. Sven Andrighetto rushed down left wing and skimmed the puck to Ken Jager right in front. He put it past a helpless Kickert's left skate.

The Austrians, though, refused to surrender. At 14:45, they made it 4-4 on Haudum's second PP goal, a magnificent glove-side one-timer.

Philipp Kurashev nearly scored on yet another Swiss man advantage in the last minute of the middle frame, but Kickert lunged across to rob him with the glove. It was an early candidate for the save of the tournament.

To start the third period, Hischier's New Jersey teammate Akira Schmid took over in the Swiss net from Berra, who had allowed four goals on just 12 shots.

At 0:43, with the man advantage, Kurashev centred the puck from behind the goal line to Hischier, who beat Kickert high to the glove side for a 5-4 lead.

The Austrians tied it up at 12:17 on a long Baumgartner floater that Schmid failed to snare with his glove. Schmid got some redemption when he foiled Rossi on a 2-on-1 with under five minutes left.

Historically, Switzerland has dominated this rivalry. The last Austrian victory over Switzerland was 4-3 here in Prague in 2015, courtesy of Konstantin Komarek's shootout winner. The Swiss won 4-0 in the last meeting in 2019.

Austria vs Switzerland - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship