Canada came from behind to beat Switzerland in a shoot-out ©Getty Images

Defending champions Canada avoided a stunning loss to Switzerland in Group A of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship after coming from behind to win a shoot-out in Helsinki, Finland.

Switzerland had lost 20 consecutive matches to the North Americans, dating back to 1980, and they were expected to be brushed aside after Canada had recorded an impressive 6-1 victory over Denmark yesterday, to bounce back from their opening day loss.

A fast start from the Swiss caught their opponents by surprise as Damien Riat put his team into the lead after just two minutes of play, before Dario Meyer doubled their advantage in the closing stages of the opening period of the tie.

However, in the dying seconds Dylan Strome was able to find the net for Canada and his effort provided them a platform to get back into the contest in the second period, with Joe Hicketts drawing the defending champions level in the 32nd minute.

With neither side about to score a winner during the final period or during overtime, a shoot-out was required to separate the teams and successes for Brayden Point and Matt Barzal were enough to give Canada the victory.

"Playing against Denmark, we had the puck a lot of the game," said Strome.

"We didn’t expect the Swiss to have the puck and be so fast, I think we kind of caught up to their speed midway through the second period and then we started to pick it up.

“When we were down 2-0, it was kind of a shock, but we got one there and kept fighting."

Russia have now won three straight matches in Helsinki
Russia have now won three straight matches in Helsinki ©Getty Images

The victory saw Canada move clear into second place in the Group B standings behind unbeaten Sweden, who face Denmark tomorrow.

However, the United States will be able to move level with Canada if they overcome Switzerland in their tie, with the European nation looking likely to have to face the relegation play-off, despite earning a first point of the tournament against Canada.

Russia have no such concerns after they secured their third straight victory in Helsinki to guarantee a quarter-final berth.

Goals from Maxim Lazarev, Alexander Polunin and Vladislav Kamenev in the opening period put the contest beyond Belarus, but with 15 minutes remaining Alexei Patsenkin grabbed a consolation.

Polunin’s second of the match ensured Russia claimed a 4-1 victory and remained in control of the group, while Belarus are still looking for their first victory of the tournament.

Their search will continue against second place Czech Republic tomorrow, with Finland and Slovakia also set to be in action on the ice.