As tough as it was for Switzerland to lose 4-3 to Sweden in a shootout, Thursday’s development wasn’t much better.
Sven Bartschi left midway through Wednesday’s first period after being hit in the neutral zone by a Swedish rival. The 2011 first-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames did not return to action at the Scotiabank Saddledome and did not practise Thursday.
Swiss coach Manuele Celio told reporters he didn’t expect Bartschi to play Friday against Latvia and wasn’t sure when his 19-year-old forward would be back on the ice at the world junior championship.
“He got a hit in the middle zone [of the ice] He wasn’t prepared for it,” said Celio, adding how the Swedish player had just come off the bench when he collided high with Bartschi’s shoulder. “He didn’t feel really good after the hit. So now the doctors try to check on him, look at what’s going on in neck, head; could be like a concussion now.”
Asked if he was expecting a quick recovery for Bartschi, Celio answered: “I don’t think in next couple of days. [The doctors]decide something then it’s going to be the return-to-play rules. The normal rule is five days. We don’t think he’s going to play next game.”
Calgary fans have warmed to the Swiss’ relentless play through two losses and have cheered loudly for Bartschi, who attended the Flames’ training camp before being returned to his Western Hockey League team, the Portland Winterhawks. A 34-goal scorer last season in the WHL, this is Bartschi’s first appearance at the world juniors. He has twice represented his country at the under-18 world championship and was hoping for a banner showing here.
The other day, he talked about how thrilled he was to play in front of an appreciative crowd. “It’s just so much fun,” he explained. Now the luckless Swiss will have to press even harder to record their first win of the tournament.
“[The players]follow the game plan,” Celio said of his team’s attitude. “Too bad we couldn’t score and take more advantage against Russia. The Swedes are a good team; a lot of shots. Our goaltending was good. We have to keep that confidence in the way we play.”
While the Swiss were working on their faith, Sweden’s Max Friberg was feeling a bit sheepish. After scoring the shootout winner Wednesday, he rode his stick a la Tiger Williams. It was greeted with a Saddledome chorus of boos since Williams liked to ride his stick whenever he scored a goal against the Flames – for that little extra dig.
Friberg, who had watched Williams’s antics on YouTube, said he wasn’t aware of the history behind the celebration.
“Of course the fans got angry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to offend. I got happy.” Friberg added he has no plans to do the same thing should he score a winning goal in Calgary with his NHL team, the Anaheim Ducks.