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Swiss hockey squad likes their Olympic chances

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WINNIPEG - The Swiss had just dumped Belarus 6-2 in their last exhibition game before the Vancouver Olympics - which open Friday - and head coach Ralph Krueger had bold words after the game Thursday afternoon.

"We’re going to be the upset team," said Switzerland’s Olympic men’s hockey coach Ralph Krueger.

"That’s our plan. We’re not the favourite. We’re 150-1 odds to do anything, so we want to be the upset team, that’s going to be our goal."

Even before they step onto the Olympic ice Saturday against Sweden, 8,312 fans at the MTS Centre, mostly school children, seemed convinced that Winnipeg native Krueger was dead right.

One six-year-old, Grade 1 girl (name withheld) new who she was cheering for, just not the country. "I like the red team (Switzerland). They’re my favourite."

Then there were cousins Michael and Jordan Bochinski, who were skipping class with their dads. "I really like Olympic hockey," said 11-year-old Michael because he didn’t like Belarus."

Jordan, 13, was also cheering for the Swiss. "I really like the speed, and all that rushing." Would he ever play for Canada at the Olympics?,, I don’t know," said the Winnipeg Sharks AAA player. "It depends on whether I keep on playing."

Switzerland, who lost 2-1 to Belarus in overtime on Tuesday wasted no time as Thomas Deruns beat Belarus goalie Andrei Mezin two minutes, 32 seconds into the game.

The Swiss followed up with goals from Ivo Ruthemann, Roman Wick, Andres Ambuhl, Martin Pluss and Thibaut Monnet.

Konstantin Zakharov and Siarhei Dzemahin scored for Belarus.
"This is my last exhibition game as a national coach," said Krueger, "and this is the greatest place I could have finished it in; about five blocks away from where I was born, at the Health Sciences Centre."

allan.besson@freepress.mb.ca

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