The U.S. National Under-18 Team will face Switzerland in the opening game of the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship this afternoon in preliminary round action. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 a.m. EDT in Lappeenranta, Finland.
"We're confident coming into this tournament just having finished a couple of strong months in the USHL and in Russia (at the 2014 Five Nations Tournament)," said U18 defenseman Brandon Fortunato (North Hills, N.Y.). "We know that we have to execute and focus on the details versus Switzerland, and if we do that we'll be successful."
This is the first preliminary-round contest for both teams. Team USA previously played Germany in a pre-tournament game on Monday (April 14) defeating Germany, 9-1. The game was held in Vierumaki, Finland, site of Team USA's training camp. Switzerland also was in action Monday.
"We're all really excited to officially get started," said U18 forward Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.). "I feel like the two years of preparation (at the National Team Development Program) will really put us a step ahead of our competition. It's important to start strong."
Last year, Switzerland finished sixth at the U18 World Championship. The Swiss finished with a record of 2-0-0-3, falling to Finland in the quarterfinals on April 25, 2013. Switzerland scored 12 goals and gave up 24.
Three other games are being held today. Following the U.S. tilt with Switzerland, Finland takes on Denmark in Lappeenranta. In Imatra, Slovakia and Russia do battle before Sweden clashes with Canada. The Czech Republic and Germany are idle.
Team USA holds a 6-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) all-time record versus Switzerland in the tournament. The U.S. has outscored the Swiss 29-7 in those meetings.
Team USA most recently defeated the Swiss, 2-1, on April 14, 2011, in Crimmitschau, Germany. In that meeting, New Jersey Devils prospect Reid Boucher (Grand Ledge, Mich.) scored the game-winning goal in the third period. Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa.) turned aside 30 saves in the victory, while New York Rangers prospect Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Conn.) added Team USA's first goal.