On Tuesday, the playoff round of the 2018 World Junior Championship begins as eight nations will compete for gold.
Team Switzerland has the unenviable task of playing Canada in the opening game of the quarterfinals. There may be some who believe an upset might happen, but don’t count Swiss head coach Christian Wohlwend as one of those people.
— david nestico (@davidnestico200) January 1, 2018
While speaking to media on Monday, Wohlwend got real when asked what kind of game he was expecting.
“Like, the Canada team that dominates us again and we try to hold against?” Wohlwend asked rhetorically. “We are far away from them. They’re faster. They’re bigger. They’re strong. They can shoot better. They can pass better. They can do everything better.”
Next, media members asked what inspirational things Wohlwend will say to his players.
“What do I want to say?” Wohlwend responded mocking the press. “They have like…how many first rounders do they have? And the rest in the second round? And one in the fourth round who has played the most NHL games so far? So what do I want to tell them? That we just battle and battle and try. We have one in the fourth round, too. One. And the rest are not drafted.”
As Wohlwend’s tone got more anxious, the media tried to turn to an underdog narrative.
“Pressure? I don’t know if we are pressured,” Wohlwend said as he shook his head. “We don’t have pressure at all!”
Canada does seem unstoppable in this tournament, finishing first in the group stage (10 points) after only losing in a shootout to the United States. Switzerland won only one game and lost three times, scoring 10 goals while giving up 20.
However, Canada is not buying into Wohlwend’s comments.
“I didn’t know what to think of it at the start,” Dillon Dubé, a forward on Team Canada said to The Canadian Press. “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, a forward who has five points through the tournament, agreed with Dubé.
“I don’t know if he’s trying to play mind games or something,” Steel said. “It’s funny, but we have to go in there with the same attitude we would with any other team.”
The game between Canada and Switzerland will take place on January 2 at 4 PM.
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