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Swiss edge Belarus

Kurashev gets winner for Switzerland

Published 27.12.2017 17:54 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Swiss edge Belarus
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 27: Belarus goalie Andrei Grischenko #20 makes a save against Switzerland's Andre Heim #24 during the preliminary round of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Trailing early in the third period, Switzerland rallied to kick off its tournament with a 3-2 win over Belarus on Wednesday. Philipp Kurashev got the winner.

Nicolas Muller and Valentin Nussbaumer also scored for Switzerland. For Belarus, Maxim Sushko had a goal and an assist and Viktor Bovbel had the other goal.

"It was a tough game but we won, and that's the most important thing," said Kurashev.

It was the second straight loss for newly promoted Belarus, whose starting goalie Andrei Grishenko performed valiantly as shots on goal favored Switzerland 40-29.

"Our start was not so good," said Belarus's Igor Martynov. "We had a lot of mistakes and gave up a goal. But then we managed to play better. However, the last two goals broke our game. We should play better, we should fight, we should attack. Then I think everything will be OK."

Diligent and disciplined as always, the Swiss lack a Nico Hischier-style game-breaker this year, and are looking for scoring by committee.

"We didn't take advantage of our chances in the first two periods and that made it tough for us," said captain Nando Eggenberger. "In the third, we were much more effective. We have to score on our chances, especially the rest of the tournament as the games get more important. We had a lot of shots but not many goals."

Both teams will face Russia next, Switzerland on Thursday, and Belarus on Friday.

"The game against Russia tomorrow will be another challenge, and we have to play even better than we did today," said Nussbaumer. "I think we can win."

The Swiss took it to Belarus from the opening faceoff, peppering Grishenko. At 8:07, Muller was credited with the first goal after the puck trickled through the goalie’s legs in a scrum.

With under two minutes left in the first period, Grishenko extended his left leg to make a great desperation save on Swiss assistant captain Marco Miranda.

Late in the period, Belarus rallied. Sushko, the Belarus captain, got two cracks at the rebound from Vladislav Martynyuk’s blue line drive and put the second one past Swiss netminder Philip Wuthrich to tie the game up at 18:34.

After a scoreless second period, Belarus grabbed the lead on an early third-period power play when the Swiss were caught with too many men on the ice. At 4:25, Bovbel banged in a rebound and celebrated wildly even though his helmet was nearly knocked off by Swiss defenceman Nico Gross.

Nussbaumer, the youngest player on the Swiss team (born 25 September, 2000), knotted it at 2-2 at 8:12, deking in front of Grishenko before scoring on the short side.

On the rush, Kurashev blasted home Switzerland's 3-2 goal from the slot with a one-timer set up by Guillaume Maillard at 11:16 of the third.

"I just tried to put the puck on net," said Kurashev. "I got a shot off quickly, and it went off the post and in. I'm happy."

Belarus pulled Grishenko for the extra attacker in the final minute, but despite a wild flurry around Wuthrich's cage in the dying seconds, they couldn't equalize.

Switzerland has won all eight of its World Junior games with Belarus, dating back to 1998.

Belarus’s last World Junior victory came on January 3, 2007 (3-1 over Germany) in Mora, Sweden.

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