Norway-Switzerland Preview

Switzerland’s men’s hockey team has endured a pair of tough

losses so far at the Olympics. They’re in line to end that dry

spell as their next opponent hasn’t put up much of a fight through

two games.

The Swiss look to finally break into the win column on Saturday

in Vancouver against winless and overmatched Norway.

With just two NHL regulars on the roster, Switzerland has hung

tough against teams that could easily end up on the medal podium.

The Swiss fell 3-1 to the United States on Tuesday, and put a scare

in Canada by rallying from two goals down before losing 3-2 in a

shootout Thursday.

Switzerland – which stunned Canada with a 2-0 win at Turin four

years ago – trailed in the rematch before Ivo Ruthemann and Patrick

von Gunten scored in the second period to erase the deficit.

“We played hard, we didn’t give up, we sacrificed, we stuck with

our game plan and we came back,” said Swiss captain Mark Streit, a

high-scoring defenseman from the New York Islanders.

Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks made 44 saves through

overtime, but after stopping Sidney Crosby in the opening round of

the tiebreaker, failed to stop the Pittsburgh star in the fourth

round. Crosby is tied with Russia’s Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead

with 42 goals.

“Going back to back like that (against Crosby) is tough,” Hiller

said. “I wish we had scored to make it a little easier.”

The Swiss have had to ride Hiller because their offense simply

couldn’t match up with the Americans or Canadians. While Canada was

able to draw off a list of NHL stars in the shootout, Switzerland

sent out Hnat Domenichelli, Romano Lemm, Roman Wick and Martin

Pluss to try and beat Martin Brodeur – considered the greatest

goaltender of his generation.

None of them beat the NHL’s all-time wins and shutout

leader.

“It was a great effort from us,” Swiss defenseman Philippe

Furrer told the International Ice Hockey Federation’s official Web

site. “We had great goaltending from Jonas who kept us in the game,

and we had some scoring chances.”

Hiller has lost both games despite a quite respectable 2.88

goals-against average. Streit has one assist.

Qualifying for the first time since hosting the 1994 Lillehammer

Games, little was expected from Norway during these Olympics, and

its has been outscored 14-1.

Following an 8-0 defeat to Canada on Tuesday in a game that was

scoreless after one period, the Norwegians fell 6-1 to the United

States on Thursday. Already trailing by three in the second period,

Marius Holtet beat Ryan Miller for an unassisted short-handed

goal.

“We were in it for 55 minutes,” said Holtet, a 2002 draft pick

of the Dallas Stars. “They were controlling the game, but we were

hanging in there and probably should have scored on a couple more

of our other chances.”

Pal Grotnes, normally a carpenter, has a 5.74 GAA thus far in

Vancouver. Backup Andre Lysenstoen’s GAA is 15.47 after allowing

four goals in just over 15 minutes in the loss to Canada.