Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/21/06 at 01:26 AM ET
The Swiss came into the men's Olympic ice hockey tournament with only the modest goal of qualifying for the quarter-finals. But after claiming the gold medal scalps of Canada and the Czech Republic, the Swiss are ahead of schedule. A tie with Germany on Sunday made them the third team to qualify for the quarter-finals ahead of superpowers such as Canada, Russia, the Czech Republic and the United States. Ralph Krueger, the Canadian-born coach who has been heading the Swiss team since 1997, said the NHL dispute is behind the success. "When those NHL players came to play in Switzerland last season (during the lockout), we saw how talented they are. But we also saw what it is like to play with them on a regular basis. We lost the fear factor of playing against NHLers," he said.more
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