International Ice Hockey Federation

Asterix: The Hockey Way

Asterix: The Hockey Way

In 2006, Swiss bliss left Canadians cheesed off

Published 26.04.2017 21:14 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Asterix: The Hockey Way
When Switzerland upset Canada 2-0 at the 2006 Olympics, it was as if the Canadians were skating in fondue. Photos: Editions Albert René, Jukka Rautio / Europhoto
At the 2006 Olympics, the Swiss had an historic 2-0 win over Canada. They smothered their foes like the fondue that covers partygoers in Asterix in Switzerland!

Leading up to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, we’re dedicating one article to each day of the tournament, making a tongue-in-cheek comparison between an Asterix comic book and famous aspects of international hockey history.

On Day Nine of the 2017 Worlds, Canada takes on Switzerland. So let’s revisit arguably the most famous – or infamous – showdown between these two nations ever.

At the Winter Games in Turin, Italy, nobody thought the Swiss had a chance against Canada. The defending Olympic champions from Salt Lake City were off to a solid start with wins over Italy (7-2) and Germany (5-1). Switzerland had rebounded from a 5-0 opening loss to Finland by shocking the Czechs 3-2, but had never beaten the Canadians since Olympic hockey debuted in 1920.

The New York Times summed up the gap: “Team Canada is composed exclusively of N.H.L. stars. Eighteen of its 23 players are over 6 feet tall. The executive director is Wayne Gretzky, the face of the sport. Switzerland, on the other hand, has 13 players under 6 feet tall. The team has only three N.H.L. players, and two are goalies.”

To win, the Swiss had to make the Canadians feel as if they were bogged down in a sea of melted cheese – like what happens at the wild parties thrown by Roman governors in Asterix in Switzerland. Thanks to a 49-save shutout by NHL goalie Martin Gerber, fittingly born and raised in the Emmental region, Switzerland succeeded!

Canadian-born Paul DiPietro opened the scoring for the Swiss late in the first period. Then the 1993 Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens made it 2-0 on a two-man advantage midway through the second with veteran Canadian blueliners Adam Foote and Chris Pronger in the box.

For the Canadians, this was a sticky predicament! And it was one from which they never recovered. They suffered two more 2-0 losses at these Olympics. First, they fell to the eventual silver medalist Finns in group play. Then, in the quarter-final, Alexander Ovechkin scored the winner and Yevgeni Nabokov earned a 27-save shutout as Russia doomed Canada to a seventh-place finish, its worst result in Winter Games history. Canada had gone downhill as fast as Asterix riding Obelix like a sled down a snowy mountain in the Alps!

However, for the Swiss, it was as if they’d found the Edelweiss flower that Asterix and Obelix are assigned to fetch so that the village druid Getafix can make an antidote for poisoning. While they wouldn’t match their bronze medals from the 1928 and 1948 Olympics, their sixth-place finish was their healthiest hockey achievement since coming fifth in 1952!

This is a 17-part series prior to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, of which Asterix and Obelix are the official mascots. Click on News to find the stories.


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