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Stunned Swiss left lost for words, looking for answers

Feb 18, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT

Switzerland forward Roman Wick, left, and forward Luca Cunti react on the bench in the closing minute of play against Latvia in the third period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Latvia won 3-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) AP

Defense and stellar goaltending can take you far, but without anything else to back them up, eventually they will prove to be insufficient.

That’s the reality Switzerland is coping with after its 3-1 loss to Latvia. That defeat denied the Swiss entry into the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2002 Olympics and hurt their aspirations of building off of their silver medal showing in the 2013 World Championship.

“It’s crushing. … A little bit of a loss of words right now,” defenseman Mark Streit told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.

“It’s a huge disappointment for Swiss hockey.”

Switzerland only allowed one goal in the round robin, but the squad couldn’t get anything going offensively. Certainly the Swiss are known more for their defensive game, but they also had a couple noteworthy skilled forwards in Damien Brunner and Nino Niederreiter. Neither player had a point in this tournament.

“I don’t know,” Brunner said. “Sometimes you click, sometimes not. We just had nothing going on.”

Goaltender Jonas Hiller, who was the team’s best player with a 0.67 GAA and .971 save percentage, was similarly dejected after his hard work went to waste. He suggested that the talent is there, but the team might not have been putting forward a complete effort.

So while Latvia celebrates its historic win and prepares for a daunting match against the Canadians, the Swiss will be left to put the pieces back together and wait for their next opportunity to show that they’re more than just a team that can frustrate goal scorers.

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