Switzerland's ice hockey team finally found something to smile about on Monday, finishing their disappointing world championship campaign with a convincing 8-1 win over Italy.This content was published on May 7, 2001 - 23:26
Unable to reach the tournament's quarter-finals after losing to Russia on Sunday, the Swiss team appeared to be heading for more trouble against Italy when they conceded an unexpected goal in the 13th minute of Monday's match.
But two swift replies from captain Jean-Jacques Aeschlimann finally saw Ralph Krueger's team take control.
"We can leave the championships with our heads high now," said a relieved Krueger after another two goals from Michel Riesen and further strikes from Martin Plüss, Gian-Marco Crameri, Marcel Jenni and Alain Demuth had completed the rout.
The 8-1 victory was Switzerland's most emphatic under Krueger and the biggest win for the national side as a whole since an identical scoreline against Denmark five years ago. Most impressive of all, insisted Krueger, was the conditions under which the feat was achieved.
"It may have looked easy," he told swissinfo, "but I can assure you it was very difficult for the players to pick themselves up after seeing our medal dreams disappear just 24 hours earlier. It's a sign that we can learn quickly and we'll now be doing everything to make sure we never head home this early again."
Krueger's fourth year in charge of the Swiss team was the first to end with a negative balance. After suffering a surprise defeat to their German hosts in the tournament's opening match, Switzerland were never able to pull themselves back into contention.
Ironically the team's tally of two wins exactly matched their record from the last three world championships - which on those occasions was enough for places in the top eight.
In Germany, though, the Swiss team's victories proved far less valuable with the points earned against Belarus in the opening round not counting in round two and the win over Italy coming too late to make a difference.
by Mark Ledsom, Hanover
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