Swiss stars outshine Danes
by Lucas AYKROYD|18 MAY 2024
In an 8-0 romp over Denmark, Switzerland's Nico Hischier (#13) skates to the bench after scoring, followed by captain Roman Josi (#90) and Kevin Fiala (#21).
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin
On Saturday, Roman Josi showed again why he has the “C” on his jersey. Switzerland’s greatest defenceman set the early tone with a goal and an assist, boosting his tournament-leading points total (10) in a 8-0 rout over Denmark.

The Swiss, silver medalists in 2013 and 2018, now have 14 points as they battle host Czechia and defending champion Canada for first place in Group A. A key showdown with the Canadians looms on Sunday.

Nico Hischier added his team-leading fifth goal of the tournament and two assists. The #1 overall NHL draft pick in 2017 is battling Finland’s Oliver Kapanen (six goals) and Canada’s Connor Bedard (five goals) for the tournament goals lead. Hischier's linemate Kevin Fiala also dazzled with two goals and an assist.

"I feel good on the ice," said Hischier, who is right behind Josi with nine points. "My body feels good. Obviously it's great to help my team with scoring goals, but I'll try to do more than that."

Josi won the 2020 Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top blueliner and is a finalist for the award again this year. At 33, the Nashville Predators captain recorded his second-highest NHL points total ever (85), and his performance here in Prague lends credence to the notion he’s improving with age.

Hischier hailed Josi: "It's the second time I'm playing with him in the World Championship. It's fun playing with him. He's such a smart player. You've just got to find open space and you know you'll get it from him. It's definitely a lot easier playing with him than against him."

For Denmark, facing Switzerland less than 24 hours after a hard-fought 4-3 win over Great Britain posed a big challenge. The more talented Swiss had better legs and dominated puck possession, especially from the second period on.

The loss leaves the Danes fifth in Group A. They have one preliminary-round game left against fourth-place Finland on Monday and will need some help to crack the quarter-finals.

"I don't think there's any positives in an 8-0 defeat," said Denmark's Joachim Blichfeld. "We've got one more game against Finland and we've got to be ready for that one if we want to have a chance to go through."

Final shots favoured Switzerland 29-17. Goalie Leonardo Genoni picked up his first shutout of the tournament.

Switzerland got a quick start at 4:10. Hischier took a short pass from Fiala and snapped the puck past Danish starter Frederik Dichow’s blocker. This was the second straight game where Hischier has opened the scoring.

Josi showed extraordinary coollness to make it 2-0 unassisted at 17:15. He stole the puck at the left point in the Danish zone and deked out defender Oliver Larsen before tucking home a backhander.

"The first period was tough, a lot of back and forth," Josi said. "Then we obviously scored some goals, and it's nice to get go into the intermission with a 2-0 lead. And I thought after that we played really well."

Switzerland's power play came in as the tournament's most-productive with eight goals on 18 man advantages through four games. It looked truly elite on Fiala's 3-0 marker just 39 seconds into the middle frame.

While ringed by three Danish defenders, Andres Ambuhl (playing his all-time record 136th Worlds game) slipped the disc across to the Los Angeles Kings sniper in the left faceoff circle, and he had a gaping net.

"They're a good team, a skilled team," Blichfeld said. "We gave them a couple of power plays. When we kept turning the puck over, they capitalized. So it was not a good effort by us today."

At 3:58, Fiala capitalized on Danish defensive miscues to convert a wraparound for his third goal of these Worlds.

Back-to-back Swiss power plays didn't extend their lead. But Dario Simion gobbled up a Danish giveaway and dished the puck cross-ice for Sven Senteler to one-time past Dichow at 13:43.

Early in the third period, Mathias From thought he'd gotten Denmark on the board when he poked in a rebound during a goalmouth scrum, but video review confirmed the whistle had already blown.

The Swiss kept coming, showing no mercy on Danish backup Mathias Seldrup, who replaced Dichow for the last 20 minutes.

Calvin Thurkauf stole the puck at the Danish blue and scored shorthanded at 2:49 to make it 6-0. Less than three minutes later, Christoph Bertschy waltzed and went high glove side for the seventh goal. Tristan Scherwey rounded out the scoring with 5:42 left.

Josi acknowledged the great fan support with 17,725 on hand: "It's unbelievable, like the whole stadium was full of Swiss fans. I was downtown yesterday, and you saw all the Swiss fans. It's pretty special for us to have that many Swiss fans make the trip to Prague."

No defenceman has ever won the World Championship scoring race. So it'll be intriguing to see if Josi can maintain his torrid pace.

The Danes have never beaten Switzerland at the Worlds. Their record now sits at eight, dating back to their top-division return in 2003. The only point they’ve ever taken from Switzerland was in a 3-2 overtime loss in 2016. Denmark blew a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 on Eric Blum’s overtime winner set up by Ambuhl.

Denmark vs Switzerland - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship