Team USA got off to a shocking and disappointing start to their quest to take home gold at the World U18 Championships in Finland this morning when they were upset 4-2 by Switzerland.
The game appeared to be going as expected when goals by Jack Dougherty and Kyle Connor put the US up 2-1 after one period. But after a scoreless second period, Swiss star and potential first round draft pick Kevin Fiala tied the game at two apiece with a goal just 46 seconds into the period. Denis Malgin scored the game-winning goal on a feed from Fiala with 3:30 remaining in regulation, and added an empty-net goal late to seal the upset victory.
Alex Nedeljkovic played goal for the US, stopping 33 shots. Switzerland outshot the US 37-33 for the game.
Prior to today, the US was 6-0-0-0 all-time against Switzerland at the U18s, outscoring them by a total of 29-7. The US came into this tournament as heavy favorites by virtue of their depth, talent, and advantage of most of the team playing together all season.
The loss isn't fatal for the United States. The top four teams of each five-team group advance to the quarterfinal round, so it's unlikely that the US would finish last in their group and face relegation, but it's certainly not a promising start to the tournament, and potentially gives the US a much tougher match-up in the quarterfinal round if they don't win their group.
The US will have tomorrow off to regroup before facing off against the Czech Republic at 8am EDT in a game that can be seen live, and free at FastHockey.com