Ice Hockey World Championship: Storm and passion – Germany’s way to the semi-finals

Ice Hockey World Championship: Storm and passion – Germany’s way to the semi-finals

The German national ice hockey team is missing 15 permanent staff – and yet the team is in the semi-finals of the Ice Hockey World Championship. A little fairy tale that only faces one big hurdle.

It was 32 minutes into the quarter-finals of the Ice Hockey World Championships between Germany and Switzerland when Moritz Seider did his team a disservice. Seider, Germany’s star defender, outnumbered Gaetan Haas into the gang from behind. The Swiss striker stayed on the ice, Seider had to take a shower. It was a tricky situation for the German team, who had just conceded the equalizer to make it 1-1. Switzerland put pressure on, but the German players threw themselves into the shots, blocking disc after disc.

Instead of taking the lead for the Confederates, Harold Kreis’s German team suddenly turned up the heat after the penalty expired. John-Jason, JJ for short, Peterka scored wonderfully to make it 2-1, Nico Sturm, outnumbered, made it 3-1 in the second period – it was to be the last goal of the game. “I’m just proud. What the team did was outstanding,” said Sturm after the game. Even the World Ice Hockey Federation IIHF probably didn’t expect this result and headlined “Excitement in Riga” about the German success – Switzerland had previously moved into the quarter-finals as the group’s first, having defeated the Czech Republic and Canada, among others.

It has to be emphasized that Germany is in the semi-finals of the Ice Hockey World Championships, for the third time after 2010 and 2021. And that, although the signs were anything but good. New national coach Harold Kreis had to do without 15 players at the World Cup in Tampere and Riga. It doesn’t matter whether it’s established NHL pros like Tim Stützle or Lukas Reichel or the top performers playing in Europe around Yasin Ehliz, Tobias Rieder or Tom Kühnhackl – they all canceled shortly before the start of the World Cup due to injury. The Germans also had to do without the support of NHL superstar Leon Draisaitl or goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer – both would have been eligible to play after being eliminated from the playoffs in the North American professional league, but needed a break given the almost 100-game season.

Ice Hockey World Cup: Germany copes with all setbacks

It is the World Cup of setbacks, from which the German team feels more encouraged than thrown back. The numerous cancellations before the World Cup? No problem! A moderate preparation with only three wins from seven games before the World Cup opener? No problem! After three defeats at the start in Finland with your back against the wall? Also no problem! The German team has shown itself to be solid throughout the World Cup and determined to turn any setbacks into positive ones. This was also the case in the quarter-finals against Switzerland: the Swiss side were now 1-1 after a clear foul on Moritz Seider, the very star defender who was justifiably sent to the shower shortly afterwards after an unnecessary foul. But the game didn’t tip over, on the contrary: The Germans really turned on after that.

In addition, there is extreme tactical discipline, which was already evident at the start against Sweden, the USA and Finland: Harold Kreis’s team relied on their speed from a compact defense. Technically and playfully, the DEB team may be inferior to the big nations, but through the discipline in their own third and the lightning-fast switching game, Germany compensates for many deficits and can compete with the big ones. In addition, a playful development can be seen throughout. For example, the 2:1 against Switzerland by JJ Peterka, in which the Germans combined wonderfully through the opposing third and Germany’s NHL professional also danced out a defender before scoring.

The German team carries the great breadth

The DEB team is supported by the three NHL professionals Peterka, Sturm and Seider – Sturm (6 goals) and Peterka (5) are among the top scorers of the tournament – but also by the surprising breadth of the team. 16 players have already entered the top scorer list, only the USA (17) are better in this statistic – of all the teams the Germans meet in the semi-finals on Saturday. “We just have to play like we did against Switzerland. With heart and soul, with passion and everyone for everyone,” said Peterka after the game on Thursday. It is the recipe with which Germany caused a sensation at the 2018 Winter Games and won silver.

With the game against the USA, the next small setback is already waiting for the German team – the first face-off is on Saturday at 5.20 p.m. (live on Sport 1), immediately after the end of the last matchday in the Bundesliga, which is the sporting focus of the weekend becomes. Maybe it’s this news that can tempt the German team to new heights and the certainty that by reaching the semi-finals you already have the qualification for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Turin. But the Winter Games are a dream of the future, and now a dream lives on in the German team: holding the first World Cup medal in their hands since 1953.

Source: Stern

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