Switzerland have qualified for the quarter-finals of the world ice hockey championships in Austria, achieving the target for the third time in a row.This content was published on May 10, 2005 - 10:38
In a decisive and hard-fought game on Monday they beat Belarus by two goals to nil in the capital, Vienna. They are now likely to play Sweden in Innsbruck on Thursday.
The team of trainer Ralph Krueger went ahead as early as the second minute with a goal from Goran Bezina and made the game safe 26 seconds from time when Thomas Ziegler hit the puck into an empty goal.
Bezina’s goal was the Geneva Servette defender’s first goal since January 8 when he scored against Fribourg Gottéron.
Swiss goalie Martin Gerber overcame reported back problems to turn away 17 shots for his first shutout.
The quarter-final qualification from group E means that the 25 Swiss players will each receive a bonus of SFr10,000 ($8,289).
The Swiss Ice Hockey Association, which will receive at least SFr525,000 for the team’s efforts, is expected to give about half of that sum back to the team.
Had the Swiss lost on Monday, the players would have returned home on Wednesday without a bonus.
Last year in the Czech Republic capital, Prague, Switzerland reached the quarterfinals of the world championships for the fifth time in seven years, before losing to the 2002 champions, Slovakia.
The team’s success so far is expected to boost the chances of coach Ralph Krueger to continue his job. Krueger’s contract runs out next year after eight years at the helm.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss matches to date at the ice hockey world championships, taking place in Austria till May 15.
Czech Republic 3, Switzerland 1
Switzerland 2, Kazakhstan 1
Switzerland 5, Germany 1
Russia 3, Switzerland 3
Slovakia 3, Switzerland 1
Switzerland 2, Belarus 0
Switzerland now play the winner of group F on Thursday.
On Thursday, Switzerland is expected to face Sweden who are favourites to reach the quarter-final game from their group F.
Switzerland met Sweden last in 2003 at the world championships when they lost 5-2 in Turku.
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