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Switzerland goes the distance; Shootout finishes Finns in fifth-place contest

Goaltenders Benjamin Conz and Joni Ortio were determined to maximize their time in the World Junior Championship on Monday.

Both stopped the first three shots they saw in a shootout, but it was Finland's Ortio who cracked first, allowing the lone goal to Switzerland's Yannick Herren in the extra session. Conz then stopped Finland's Teemu Pulkkinen on the tying chance, giving Switzerland a 3-2 victory and fifth place in this year's World Junior Championship. Pulkkinen lost control of the puck on his way in, allowing Conz to sweep it away.

"It was not the biggest stop to make," Conz said, "but you never know what will happen, so you have to be there."

"I just lost it," Pulkkinen said. "Frustrated, but life goes on."

The win was a measure of revenge for the Swiss, who dropped a 4-0 game to Finland in the group stage. It came in come-from-behind fashion, as the Swiss battled back twice from one-goal deficits.

Herren scored the shootout winner for the Swiss on the team's fourth attempt, going wide with a backhand and roofing it over a fallen Ortio.

"It was a nice move and I had no chance on that," Ortio said. "It was a great goal."

Going to extra shooters was fitting in a game both teams had many chances to win. The third period featured five power plays, including three for the Finns, but neither team could get the go-ahead goal.

"We just couldn't play the hockey we wanted tonight and that showed on the scoreboard," Ortio said. "They battled way harder than we did. They won all the one-on-one battles and we weren't able to capitalize on our scoring chances."

Switzerland tied the score, 2-2, with 14:37 left in the second period. Swiss star Nino Niederreiter, who came into the game with just three points, got his fourth on the power play. The fifth overall pick by the New York Islanders in June's NHL draft let a wrist shot go from the top of the right circle. The shot made its way through traffic and behind Ortio. The goal was originally awarded to Niederreiter, but later changed to Luca Camperchioli.

Niederreiter admitted it was difficult before the game to get ready to play without a medal on the line, but afterward was proud of his team's effort.

"It was huge," he said. "It's still a hockey game and you still have got to win it. It was tough to get into the game, but in the end we got the win."

The Finns opened a 1-0 lead just 22 seconds into the game when Pulkkinen put a rebound past Conz. Switzerland tied the score, 1-1, when forward Inti Pestoni knocked in a rebound of his own shot with 17:04 left in the opening period.

Ortio stopped Benjamin Antonietti's shot, but the rebound went to Pestoni, who was uncovered as a result of a nice job by Swiss forward Gaeten Haas tying up both Finnish defensemen.

Switzerland had a chance to take the lead late in the first period when Finland's Julius Junttila went to the box for hooking. The power play backfired, though, and Finland took a 2-1 lead on a short-handed breakaway goal by Erik Haula. A perfect pass off the boards by Teemu Tallberg sent Haula in alone on Conz, and he got the Swiss goaltender down before firing to the uncovered top-left side of the net.

That was one of the few times Conz, who made 21 saves, was beat. Ortio stopped 29 shots. Finland did not lose in regulation during the tournament, losing twice in overtime and once in the shootout.

e-mail: jskurski@buffnews.com

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