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2017 World Junior Hockey Championship: Team Switzerland preview

Switzerland looks to rebound after a disappointing result in 2016.

USA v Switzerland: 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship - Day Six Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

For the third straight year, Switzerland ended the 2016 tournament in a relegation series, this time facing Belarus. The Swiss won two straight games against the Belarusians to maintain their position in the IIHF’s Top Division.

Facing relegation again was an unexpected outcome from the 2016 tournament for the talented Swiss team. They had brought a solid squad, including several NHL prospects, but were undone by the Cinderella-story, tournament sweethearts from Denmark.

In fact, 2016 marked the first time ever that the Swiss earned a point against Canada In the World Juniors, and this year they hope to build upon those results.

Roster

Team Switzerland

# Player Position League Current Team
# Player Position League Current Team
1 Matteo Ritz G Elite Jr. A Lausanne HC
30 Joren van Pottelberghe G NLA HC Davos
29 Philip Wüthrich G Elite Jr. A SC Bern
2 Yanick Burren D NLB SC Bern
24 Colin Gerber D Elite Jr. A SC Bern
7 Nico Gross D NLB EVZ Academy
4 Roger Karrer D NLB ZSC Lions Zurich
25 Jonas Siegenthaler D NLA ZSC Lions Zurich
5 Livio Stadler D SuperElit Lulea HF
10 Serge Weber D NLA EHC Kloten
23 Dominik Diem F NLB GCK Lions Zurich
22 Nando Eggenberger F Elite Jr. A HC Davos
21 Fabian Haberstich F NLB EVZ Academy
26 Timo Haussener F NLB EVZ Academy
18 Nico Hischier F QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads
16 Loic In Albon F Elite Jr. A Lausanne HC
15 Nathan Marchon F Elite Jr. A HC Fribourg-Gotteron
11 Marco Miranda F NLB GCK Lions Zurich
8 Jerome Portmann F Elite Jr. A HC Davos
17 Raphael Prassl F NLB GCK Lions Zurich
9 Damien Riat F NLA Geneve-Servette HC
12 Calvin Thürkauf F WHL Kelowna Rockets
19 Yannick Zehnder F NLB EVZ Academy

Strengths

This year finds Switzerland in a somewhat easier group, as perennial powerhouses Canada, United States, and Russia all reside within Group B. Still, Switzerland will be up against last year’s victors from Finland, and those pesky Danes once again.

The Swiss have quite a few skaters who combine size and speed as effectively as a Swiss Army knife, especially on special teams, like forward Marco Miranda and defenceman Roger Karrer. As a whole, the Swiss program has started to produce more scorers who can help the team move through the tournament effectively if they can get rolling smoothly like a rich Swiss chocolate.

Weaknesses

There are few returnees to the Switzerland lineup compared to last year’s group, as the country now boasts the youngest roster of the tournament. The club will now be backstopped by Red Wings prospect Joren Van Pottelberghe — a tournament veteran from last year — and two rookies.

As well, the Swiss have only one returning defenceman, Jonas Siegenthaler, a Washington Capitals second-round pick, and one experienced forward in centre Calvin Thürkauf, a seventh-round Columbus Blue Jackets draft selection.

With a young group of skaters and a preference to play a trap system, Switzerland’s defence looks to have the potential to be as porous as a slice of Swiss Cheese, so the goaltending, as noted above, will be key.

X-Factor

Switzerland’s Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads has been considered among the top prospects for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Last year was his first experience at the tournament, and he managed to put up just a pair of assists in minimal ice time as a 16-year-old.

If he can put up the numbers expected of him this time around, he can help Switzerland make a big splash.