BUFFALO, N.Y.—Canadian captain Dillon Dube couldn't believe what he was hearing.
Swiss head coach Christian Wohlwend virtually was raising the white flag of surrender, saying Switzerland expects to be dominated by Canada in today's quarter-final at the world junior hockey championship.
“They're faster, they're bigger, they're stronger, they can shoot better, they can pass better, they can do everything better,” Wohlwend had said Sunday after his team fell 6-3 to the Czech Republic to set up the match against Canada.
“They have how many first-rounders? And the rest in the second round?" he mused. ”And one in the fourth round that has played the most NHL games?
“We have one in the fourth round, too," Wohlwend added. "One. The rest are undrafted.”
Wohlwend did make some good points.
Canada has eight players who were drafted in the first round while the rest were taken in the second round or later.
Defenceman Victor Mete, a fourth-round pick in 2016, played 27 games for the Montreal Canadiens this season before being loaned to Hockey Canada for the tournament.
Also, Canada beat Switzerland 8-1 on Dec. 22 in a pre-tournament exhibition game.
However, Dube still was stunned to hear Wohlwend's frank assessment of Switzerland's chances.
“I didn't know what to think of it at the start,” said Dube, who had two goals and an assist against the Swiss in the exhibition.
“I watched it a couple of times, laughing a little bit," he noted. ”To be honest, I think everybody did.
“I think that might have been some reverse psychology or something like that.”
Sam Steel, Dube's linemate throughout the tournament, agreed Wohlwend might be trying to lull the Canadians into a false sense of security.
“I don't know if he's trying to play mind games or something,” said Steel, who led Canada with five points in the preliminary round.
“It's funny, but we have to go in there with the same attitude we would with any other team,” he stressed.
Canada took New Year's Eve off, opting for a team dinner with Hockey Canada staff and players' families.
Head coach Dominique Ducharme had his team back on the ice yesterday to prepare for the Swiss.
Mete was the only player to sit out the practice session. Ducharme said the blueliner was hurt in Friday's 4-3 shootout loss to the U.S.
“He's good," said Ducharme. ”We just want him 100 percent and we felt he needed an extra day.
“He's going to be in tomorrow [Tuesday].”
Goalie Carter Hart will start for Canada against Switzerland.
Hart has two wins and a shootout loss with a .929 save percentage and 1.95 GAA.
He's coming off an 18-save shutout in Canada's 8-0 rout of Denmark on Saturday that clinched top spot in Group 'A.'
Today's other quarter-final matchups include Finland against the Czech Republic, Sweden versus Slovakia, and the U.S. facing Russia.