The German national ice hockey team has reached the semi-finals at the World Cup. In Riga, the team defeated Switzerland and will face a tough opponent on Saturday.
Already in the final seconds, Germany’s worn-out ice hockey cracks celebrated the new quarter-final coup, the Swiss NHL stars shook their heads in disbelief. After 2010 and 2021, Germany’s ice hockey cracks are again fighting for a World Cup medal after a decisive success against arch-rival Switzerland. Like two years ago, Germany won again in Riga on Thursday, this time the DEB selection prevailed 3-1 (1-0, 2-1, 0-0). “It can go on like this,” said captain Moritz Müller at Sport1 and was “totally proud” of the team. NHL striker Nico Sturm said: “I think a lot is still possible.”
Maximilian Kastner (7th minute) from EHC Red Bull Munich and NHL strikers John-Jason Peterka (38th) and Nico Sturm (39th) shot the selection of national coach Harold Kreis into the semifinals, where it was again in Tampere, Finland on Saturday going against the US. “It’s definitely a dream come true. I don’t want to be too happy now. We want to get as far as possible,” said Wojciech Stachowiak at MagentaSport.
In a heated and emotional game, the strong German team got over a game-misconduct penalty for NHL defender Moritz Seider. “Losing one of our absolute top guys in the middle of the game does something mentally. I think everyone has upped the ante,” said Moritz Müller.
National ice hockey team qualifies for 2026 Winter Olympics
With the victory, the team of the German Ice Hockey Federation also sealed the direct Olympic qualification for the 2026 Winter Games in Milan. Now there is a chance to win a World Championship medal for the first time in 70 years. The attempt failed 2 years ago in Riga and 13 years ago at the home World Cup. Both times, Germany finished fourth. The DEB selection last won silver at the World Championships in 1953, although only four nations took part at the time.
As the successor to Toni Söderholm, Kreis can already look back on a strong World Cup premiere as head coach. Kreis and his team achieved both of the goals set by the association – getting into the quarter-finals and direct qualification for the Olympics – although the 64-year-old had canceled 15 top performers before the tournament due to injuries. Among others, Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stützle and Philipp Grubauer, the three best German NHL players alongside Seider, will not be there this time in Finland and Latvia.
Before the tournament, many experts had given little credit to the current squad and, above all, little to the attack. In fact, the district team has so far convinced with great unity and sovereign victories in all games that had to be won.
Germany enters as an outsider
On Thursday, Germany played as outsiders for the first time since the unfortunate start of the World Cup with narrow defeats against Sweden (0:1), Finland (3:4) and the USA (2:3). Switzerland, as the sovereign first in group B, has already been celebrated at home as “the best World Cup team in history”, but now has to return home early.
The Swiss coach Patrick Fischer had even given up his number one Leonardo Genoni, who had been in goal for the Swiss in the previous two knockout games in 2018 and 2021. Robert Mayer from Servette Geneva was in goal for the goalkeeper who has stood out so far at the World Cup.
And that was a wrong decision by Fischer! Mayer slipped a harmless shot from Kastner through the schooners early on and looked shaky in the first third. “Of course you have that in your head, they will have that in your head too,” DEB captain Moritz Müller said before the game about Germany’s previous victories in knockout games against Switzerland. And in fact, the Confederates, who had been so strong in this tournament before, suddenly felt insecure. “I think we took the rhythm out of the game a bit,” said goal scorer Kastner in the third break at Sport1.
However, Switzerland came out of the dressing room with new momentum and quickly equalized through NHL defender Jonas Siegenthaler (21st). After that it got heated. The DEB selection was left unused for three outnumbered situations, including after stick shots by Andreas Ambühl and Enzo Corvi. After that, Seider committed his serious foul against Gäetan Haas. Germany’s best defender was out of the game.
However, the reaction of Seider’s teammates was particularly strong. Germany’s World Cup top scorer Peterka successfully completed a class combination after surviving a five-minute deficit. And before the second break, the storm, which had been outstanding at the World Cup so far, even scored outnumbered.
“A player can’t replace him. The guys who are left have to do that now,” said Sturm before the final third at MagentaSport about Seider’s penalty. Solid and with a lot of fighting and countless blocked shots, his team actually brought the victory over time.
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