Playing as the favourites for the first time in these Olympics, the Swiss hockey team survived a scare by defeating Norway, 5-4, in overtime.
Finding open space in front of the net, Switzerland’s Romano Lemm tapped in a centering pass from Sandy Jeannin to score the game winner.
Roman Wick had a goal and two assists for Switzerland, while Raffaele Sannitz, Julien Sprunger, and Severin Blindenbacher also scored.
Switzerland had to overcome a spirited performance from Tore Vikingstad, who had a hat trick to lead the offence for Norway. Mads Hansen scored the team’s lone power-play goal and Patrick Thorensen had three assists.
For the second straight Switzerland game goaltending was a major storyline, only this time Jonas Hiller gave up the spotlight to his counterpart, Pal Grotnes.
The Norwegian goaltender made several spectacular saves to keep his team in it, especially in the first period when Switzerland outshot them by a 13-4 margin.
Hiller did not play up to the same stratospheric levels he showed in the shootout loss to Canada on Thursday, giving up some big rebounds and looking a little shaky handling the puck at times, including on the pivotal goal that forced overtime.
With his team up 4-3 and seven minutes to play, Hiller went behind the goal-line to play the puck, but hesitated as he saw two Norwegians coming towards him.
Thoresen stole the puck and fired a pass to Vikingstad, who collected the puck and backhanded a shot past a scrambling Hiller.
Vikingstad had a great chance to score his fourth goal of the game in overtime. Skating in on a 2-on-1 chance, Vikingstad deflected a pass that rose up in the air and toward the net, but Hiller pulled it down with his glove.
Switzerland came out of the gate looking like the favourites, creating odd-man rushes, putting plenty of pressure on the forecheck, and even generating a penalty shot – all in the first minute of play.
Norwegian defenceman Jonas Holos closed his hand on the puck in his own crease, preventing a goal but drawing a penalty shot just 58 seconds into the game.
Hnat Dominechelli was rewarded with the penalty shot, but Grotnes, in a prelude of what was to come for the rest of the game, stood his ground and made a pad save to keep it 0-0 early.
Grotnes made 33 saves in a tight match that saw Norway get better offensively as the game went along. Though heavily outplayed in the first period, they went into the intermission tied 1-1.
Norway scored to make it 2-1 in the second period for their first lead of the game, but Switzerland replied with two goals of their own to retake the advantage.
Despite Norway’s best efforts to steal a win, they could never regain the lead.
It was the last game for both teams in the preliminary round of the tournament as they can now look forward to the qualifications stage starting Tuesday.