By Josh Ferguson
Zach Parise scored two minutes into the third period to break a scoreless deadlock and sent his team to the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Switzerland at Canada Hockey Place on Wednesday.
The Americans came out fast and furious in the opening period, firing 18 shots on Swiss keeper Jonas Hiller. However, the Anaheim Ducks ‘tender was brilliant by turning aside every shot he faced to keep the game scoreless going into the intermission.
The two world-class goalies were the difference-makers in this quarterfinal matchup as both Hiller and American goalie Ryan Miller put on a goaltending clinic from start to finish. Although Miller only faced eight shots through two periods, the majority of them were legitimate scoring chances for the Swiss.
After owning the Swiss in the shot department by outshooting them 32-8, the Americans thought they had finally cracked Hiller in the dying seconds of the middle frame, but caught a bad break.
Ryan Kesler threw a puck on the Swiss goal from the corner and Hiller’s attempt to intercept the cross-crease pass deflected the puck into the air. Hiller tried to swat it away, but ended up putting it into his own net. The play was reviewed and the goal was taken away from Team USA after the replay showed the puck directly above the goal line as the game clock hit zeroes to close out the period.
The Americans were finally awarded for their dominance on a goal that encapsulates the crazy and unconventional game it was. With Philippe Furrer in the penalty box for tripping, Brian Rafalski fired a point shot that Parise deflected on the Swiss goal. Hiller got a piece of the tip and the puck flipped end-over-end in the Swiss crease, looking like it was going to bounce wide of the net. However, when the puck hit the blue paint, it did a 90-degree turn and spun into the net for a 1-0 American lead.
The Swiss upped their tempo after the Parise marker and collected more shots in the third period than they did in the previous two, getting 11. Switzerland couldn’t solve the brick wall known as Miller, though, and Parise buried an empty-netter to advance his squad.
Miller stopped all 19 shots he faced for the shutout and the win, while Hiller put on another sensational performance in the Swiss net and made 42 saves on 43 shots.
With the win, the Americans will battle the winner of Finland and the Czech Republic in the semifinals on Friday.
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