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PRINT EDITION
Canada not buying into Swiss coach's comments ahead of quarter-final
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By JOHN CHIDLEY HILL
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Tuesday, January 2, 2018 – Page B12

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Canadian captain Dillon Dubé couldn't believe what he was hearing. Swiss head coach Christian Wohlwend was virtually raising the white flag of surrender, saying Switzerland expects to be dominated by Canada in Tuesday's quarterfinal at the world junior hockey championship.

"They're faster, they're bigger, they're stronger, they can shoot better, they can pass better, they can do everything better," Wohlwend said on Sunday after his team dropped a 6-3 decision to the Czech Republic to set up the Canada matchup.

"They have how many firstrounders? And the rest in the second round?

"And one in the fourth round that has played the most NHL games?

"We have one in the fourth round, too. One. The rest are undrafted."

Wohlwend did make some good points.

Canada has seven players who were drafted in the first round and the rest were taken in the second round.

The lone exception is defenceman Victor Mete, a fourthround pick in 2016 who played 27 games for the Montreal Canadiens this season before being lent to Hockey Canada for the tournament.

Also, Canada beat Switzerland 8-1 on Dec. 22 in a pretournament exhibition game.

However, Dubé was still stunned to hear Wohlwend's frank assessment of Switzerland's chances.

"I didn't know what to think of it at the start," said Dubé, who had two goals and an assist against the Swiss in the exhibition.

"I watched it a couple of times, laughing a little bit. To be honest, I think everybody did.

"I think that might have been some reverse psychology or something like that."

Sam Steel, Dubé's linemate throughout the tournament, agreed that Wohlwend might be trying to lull the Canadians into a false sense of security.

"I don't know if he's trying to play mind games or something," said Steel, who led Canada with five points in the preliminary round.

"It's funny, but we have to go in there with the same attitude we would with any other team."

Canada took New Year's Eve off, opting for a team dinner with Hockey Canada staff and players' families.

Head coach Dominique Ducharme had his team back on the ice on Monday to prepare for the Swiss.

Mete was the only player to sit out the practice session.

Ducharme said the blueliner was hurt in Friday's 4-3 shootout loss to the United States.

"He's good, we just want him 100 per cent and we felt he needed an extra day," Ducharme said.

"He's going to be in tomorrow."

Goaltender Carter Hart will start in net for Canada against Switzerland.

Hart has two wins and a shootout loss with a .929 save percentage and 1.95 goalsagainst average.

He's coming off an 18-save shutout in Canada's 8-0 rout of Denmark on Saturday that clinched top spot in Group A.

Dubé, Steel and Ducharme were all in agreement that despite Wohlwend's comments they would not take Switzerland lightly.

"I think he's obviously trying to send a message to his team, he must have said something to them," said Dub.

"I think that's why he said that we dominated them in the exhibition.

"They're going to come out trying to catch us sleeping so that's why we really have to focus on our game and know what to expect, they're going to come out hard.

"That doesn't mean they're going to sit back and let us roll all over them."


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