Despite World Cup anger due to scandal check
The mighty resurrection of the Germans cracks
By Tobias Nordman
Second in the group and points record: Germany’s ice hockey team once again set an example at the end of the World Cup preliminary round in Finland against Switzerland. The rehabilitation for the Olympic debacle has already succeeded, but the team’s hunger has not been satisfied.
Switzerland plays an impressive preliminary round at this World Ice Hockey Championship. If an initial balance is drawn before the quarter-finals, then the Swiss are among the absolute top favorites for the title. The game of “Nati” from the neighboring country, which is spiced with a number of NHL stars, is hard, fast and straightforward. It was the German national team witnessed on Tuesday. painful witness. Because the team from national coach Toni Söderholm received several hard, sometimes brutal checks, the double of the limit of what was allowed was clearly exceeded – but without consequences. No fines were imposed. A huge nuisance for Germany. Unlike your own performance in the 3: 4 defeat after penalty shootout.
If the balance is now drawn and this game is included, the DEB team can claim to be back among the best nations in the world. So far in the circle of the top eight. But maybe there is still a little more to do, although the Czech Republic is obviously a very strong opponent waiting in the quarterfinals. But very strong opponents, they seem to fit Germany better than nations, for whom it’s just about not falling from the elite of world ice hockey. Such as Kazakhstan (prevented relegation) or partly Italy. The match was won overwhelmingly (9: 4), but at times extremely negligently contested.
The DEB cracks do not allow such moments against the top nations. That is one of the reasons why Germany enters the knockout round as number two in the group, ahead of Canada, against whom there was only a partially strong performance and the only defeat in regular time. The historic success – also aided by the ban on Russian Sbornaja as a result of Putin’s war of aggression – in the preliminary round of 16 points is now a strong resurrection and the perfect response to the crashing Olympic debacle in Beijing in February. The team from Canada, USA and Slovakia had mercilessly thrown away the gold ambitions to be researched. Confidence paralyzed the team’s game. And so this World Cup tournament was and will be the litmus test for the state in German ice hockey.
Team tells an impressive story
And no matter how the tournament goes: Germany has put the successful runners back on the ice. The team not only has an uplifting mentality, but also develops a lot of playing joy. The two have been mixed together with great success so far. Matthias Plachta provided a magical moment against Switzerland. After a spectacular solo by two opponents, the striker is already on his knees and then phenomenally lifts the disk with his backhand to make it 3: 3 in the meantime. But this gate tells a different story. It tells the story of this team.
Two minutes before Plachta’s genius, Leon Gawanke falls bleeding on the ice. The youngster from the AHL crashed into the elbow of opponent Denis Malgin. An attack that should have resulted in match penalties. But the judges did not punish the act. After the bitter World Cup knockout for Tim Stützle, the outstanding storming talent, Germany was threatened with the next bad news. But Gawanke pulled himself together – just as the team that did not quarrel did not meddle in meaningless debates. The team countered with positive emotions – and was rewarded with 3: 3, the point that manifested second place. And gave yet another indication of the remarkable calm and perseverance with which the Germans cracks responding to setbacks and deficits in this tournament.
However, the national coach was very angry about the too fast pace of the Confederates. “It’s completely incomprehensible to me. It’s not part of the sport. We’re talking about controls here that have nothing to do with respect.” The Finn also complained to the judges: “Disastrous decisions. You do not have to discuss it.” It was not just about the action against Gawanke. In the middle section, Fabrice Herzog Kai Wissmann had checked the head into the gang, but received only a two-minute penalty. “It’s always said: We have to protect the players. But then we do not. It’s too dangerous what happens.”
Young with a lot of wit
The Söderholm squad has proven to be very robust in this tournament so far. Physical hardness is repaid with the same coin. But fair. Germany takes only a few time penalties in the important duels – a key to the success achieved. Because both Canada and Switzerland punished the minority severely. The fight and the passion are the foundation, the performances are garnished with playfulness – which the team has not lost Stützle’s appeal. NHL defender Moritz Seider, Gawanke and Lukas Reichel, also from the second division AHL, give not only the DEB team speed but also creativity. The handover game is often at the highest international level. A huge difference to the Beijing tournament: Germany is younger, more dynamic, more greedy and does not give up even after a clear deficit (as against Canada). And is more critical of himself. Poor performances like against Kazakhstan are addressed and no longer obscured.
Then there are the goalkeepers. Germany has always been able to trust them in recent years. While Mathias Niederberger from champion Eisbären Berlin grew to “The Octopus from Riga” at the World Cup last year, NHL goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer now conjures up the “big Grubini” (appointed by experts). The rescues are impressive and sometimes save the team through critical phases on the ice. The enthusiasm for what has been achieved is great, but remains close to reality. “Becoming number two in the group is definitely a good starting position and positive for the day after tomorrow,” said striker Marcel Noebels. The team’s performance so far is “fantastic, but we still have to put it behind us. On Thursday, no one will ask how we played in the preliminary round. Only victory or loss counts.”