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2019 World Championship Preview: Switzerland

Switzerland is going to Finland shorthanded and dealing with some key injuries.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 8 Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Schedule

Switzerland is playing in Group A with USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, and Russia.

  • April 4, 10:00 p.m. ET | Switzerland vs Canada
  • April 6, 1:30 a.m. ET | Switzerland vs Russia
  • April 8, 1:30 a.m. ET | Switzerland vs USA
  • April 8, 10:00 p.m. ET | Switzerland vs host nation Finland

Roster

  • Forwards: Rahel Enzler, Alina Müller, Kaleigh Quennec, Evelina Raselli, Lisa Rüedi, Dominique Rüegg, Noemi Ryhner, Jessica Schlegel, Phoebe Staenz, Lara Stalder , Isabel Waidacher, Sabrina Zollinger
  • Defenders: Livia Altmann, Nicole Bullo, Lara Christen, Sarah Forster, Sinja Leemann, Shannon Siegrist, Nicole Vallario, Stefanie Wetli
  • Goalies: Janine Alder, Andrea Brändli, Saskia Maurer
  • Head coach: Daniela Diaz

Players to Watch

Alina Müller

Müller was arguably the most entertaining forward at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. As a teenager, the rising star scored seven goals and notched three assists in six games to lead all 2018 Olympians in scoring.

The world took notice.

This season was Müller’s first in the NCAA. She finished as the second-highest scoring freshman with the 51 points she piled up in 37 games for the Northeastern Huskies. To give you an idea of just how important she was to the Huskies, Müller had 15 more points than Northeastern’s second-highest scoring skater. She and Princeton’s Sarah Fillier were the only freshman this year who were Top-10 Finalists for the Patty Kaz.

Phoebe Stänz

Stänz, 25, is in the prime of her career and has a lot of international experience under her belt, including a bronze Olympic medal. This year, she returned to play professional hockey in her home country after playing her first pro season in the SDHL with SDE HF. As one might expect, Stänz’s offensive production jumped off the charts playing in what is considered to be a less-competitive league.

Stänz scored 30 goals and notched 22 assists for Ladies Team Lugano to lead the SWHL in scoring this year. Just like she did in the 2018 Olympics, at Yale, and in the SDHL, Stänz showed her knack for scoring goals. She is a player that Switzerland will depend on to finish on her scoring chances in this tournament.

Janine Alder

Alder has some big shoes to fill with Florence Schelling retired, but we can’t compare her to one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game. Alder may be 23, but she’s yet to make an appearance on the ice in the top tier of the Women’s World Championship. But it would be a mistake to consider her an unproven commodity in the goal crease.

For the second-consecutive season Alder posted a .935 save percentage at St. Cloud State. That would be an amazing save percentage for any goaltender. For Alder, who played on a team that, on average, was out-shot by 19.62 shots per game, that save percentage is absolutely sensational.

Last Time Around

The Swiss finished in seventh place in Michigan at the 2017 Worlds. Switzerland’s only loss in the group stage was a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Team Sweden, but they still came perilously close to an eighth place finish. The relegation round between the Swiss and the Czech Republic was a three-game series that came down to the wire in Game Two.

After crushing the Swiss by a score of 4-2 in the first game of the relegation series, the Czechs were unable to score the go-ahead goal in the third period of Game Two. The Swiss scored in overtime to even up the series and then, in Game Three, their offense broke through with two goals in the first period. The Czechs were unable to catch up and the Swiss finished in seventh.

In Pyeongchang, the Swiss took Group B by storm. They scored 13 goals in three games while surrendering just two goals — one to Japan and one to Sweden. However, the Swiss were derailed in dramatic fashion when the Olympic Athletes from Russia routed them by a score of 6-2 in the Quarterfinals. After that disappointing result, Switzerland shut out the unified Korean team and then Japan to finish fifth in the Olympic tournament.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 8 Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Storylines

Florence Schelling and Christine Meier are both retired and Lara Stalder is most likely out with an injury. As one might expect, there will be a lot of eyes — especially those belonging to players on opposing teams — on Müller in Finland. She’s under a tremendous amount of pressure to produce. If that’s not enough intrigue for you, Switzerland’s brightest young star might also be dealing with a lingering injury.

Müller was unable to play in Northeastern’s March 16 NCAA tournament game against Cornell due to a hand injury. She did play against Boston College in the Hockey East Final on March 10, although she was dealing with an upper-body injury at the time. It’s hard to say where she is with her injury right now. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

Another thing to keep an eye on with Switzerland is their power play.

At Pyeongchang, the Swiss had the best power play in the tournament with a 30.43 percent success rate and had an impressive 22.22 percent power play at the 2017 Worlds. Without Meier and Stalder the Swiss power play might look like an omelet that was made without eggs — but it’s hard to say how effective it will be until it’s on the ice.

Data courtesy of hockeyeastonline.com, eliteprospects.com, worldwomen2017.com, www.sihf.ch/de/regio-league, and the author’s own tracking.