Alexander’s Predicted Line Combinations
The Swiss are coming into a tough group at the World Juniors this year and face an uphill battle to avoid relegation. Sitting in Group B with Russia, USA, Sweden, and Slovakia, they will be put to the test in each game but will not be a walk in the park in any of their games. 2022 Draft Eligible, Lian Bischel, looks set to feature on defense and Noah Meier is also on the training camp roster and may be returning to bolster the back-line. As most European teams do, Switzerland features many players on their training camp roster who are currently playing at the professional level which could serve them well bringing a different level of pace and physicality to the tournament. The Swiss have proven to be an organized team in past tournaments and have been difficult to play against so they look to bring that same discipline this year. Their most important game figures to be against Slovakia which could be the difference between a relegation battle and a spot in the quarterfinals.
As I previously mentioned, Lian Bichsel looks like he could be a major part of the Swiss defense at this tournament and he has been performing well while playing for Leksands IF J20 in the J20 Nationell and Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He currently has three goals and eight points in 20 games. His imposing 6-foot-5 frame can be a huge asset throughout the tournament, but he also offers some very capable offensive ability that can make the opposition pay. Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Brian Zanetti will likely make the team as well and add some pedigree to the back end and as well as being a strong defensive presence in the corners and showing an ability to stand up opponents and play a physical game. Noah Meier could also be a returning player who should make the roster and should further strengthen their defense and bring his offensive touch to the back end and quarterback the powerplay and potentially be a difference-maker for the Swiss.
Switzerland’s forward group is likely going to struggle to make an impact in their group stage games, but Lorenzo Canonica is going to be one of the players to watch for them as they attempt to qualify for the knockout stages. Playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL, he is averaging almost a point per game and will be relied upon to provide some offense for the Swiss if they are going to find success in the group stage. His passing ability is going to be key in opening up defenses and creating chances for his teammates to capitalize on. While he is a pass-first player, he does have a good shot with a swift release that can catch goaltenders off-guard, and if he gets himself into those scoring areas he should not hesitate to utilize it. Simon Knak is another forward who will be a key part of this group heading into the tournament. Another NHL draft pick, Knak is a member of the Nashville Predators organization and is known for his well-rounded game. Like Canonica, his shot is a real weapon of his but he is more willing to unleash it than his fellow countryman and that will be something he needs to do for them to find success.
In net, Switzerland isn’t quite set yet as all of their goalies at camp have a shot to become the team’s starter. Kevin Pasche seems like he could end up locking down the starting position as he has been playing for the Omaha Lancers in the USHL and has gone 9-4-1 with a .916 save percentage and 2.20 goals against, very formidable numbers. His play could well see him claim the starting role and playing against professionals in the USHL could be a swaying decision for the national team. Noah Patenaude could vie for the position as well as he has posted pretty solid numbers in the QMJHL as well this season with Saint John’s. The battle in camp could come down to these two and both of them will be tasked with keeping the pu