Germany sensationally won silver at the Ice Hockey World Championships. Sportschau reporter Burkhard Hupe accompanied the national team and remembers the best moments.
There were many small moments at this World Cup that describe the big picture and ultimately made it up. For example in the last preliminary round game against France, when Germany was already leading 5-0, they had the quarter-finals in their pockets. The French were given the chance to score the consolation goal with a free shot just before the end. Nico Sturm recognized the situation and threw his body onto the ice as a block.
Sturm has already won the Stanley Cup, with his annual salary in San José you could finance half a DEL team. But at that moment it was about securing a clean sheet for German goalkeeper Matthias Niederberger. Repelling a slapshot at 140 kilometers per hour with skin and hair is the biggest statement in ice hockey.
In the preliminary round game against Austria, national coach Harold Kreis let his top attacker John-Jason Peterka go sour on the bench in the last third. “Benchen” is what they call it in ice hockey. Peterka didn’t stick to the game plan, jeopardizing success with bad passes and stubbornness.
“We felt that he wasn’t able to develop his game like that“said Harold Kreis later. A friendly euphemism and a clear signal to the team: nobody is bigger than the team. Peterka, a young, ambitious guy with enormous potential, swallowed this reference and then played a class better.
Psycho tricks against Switzerland
In the quarterfinals against Switzerland, Germany drew the psycho card and chose the cabin opposite the Swiss from the six free cabins in Riga’s ice arena. They wanted to crawl into the heads of the Confederates. They wanted to annoy them. It was impressive. Also because after the early dismissal of the best German defender Moritz Seider, every single player was able to give at least five percent more.
National coach Kreis coined a wonderful sentence these days from Tampere and Riga: “I feel in good hands with this team.” Kreis has experienced a lot in ice hockey. He became German champion twice as a defender for the Adler Mannheim, his jersey with the number 3 hangs under the roof of the hall in Mannheim. With Düsseldorf as a coach, he was close to the national title, which he won twice in Switzerland. Kreis has had ice hockey on the credit side for almost five decades and was considered by quite a few experts to be an emergency solution after Toni Söderholm surprisingly moved to Switzerland last autumn.
The national coach: Calm, clear and empathetic
It has now been shown that Kreis has developed this team further with his calm, clarity and empathy. In a very short time. On the foundations laid by his predecessors Marco Sturm and Söderholm, he has created a confident structure that has not lost confidence despite losing the first three World Cup games despite very impressive performances. Every game that followed was a final. And each time it was different actors who opened the door to the next hope.
With Wojciech Stachowiak, the German team has even produced a real shooting star. The fourth-row centre-forward, with a full beard and flowing hair, was an inspiration for the rest of the team with his cheeky, daring and at the same time combative manner.
It was no coincidence that the Ingolstadt native brought that unexpected counterattack to the opposing goal when he was outnumbered, put the disc across on storm, whose goal to 3:1 set the course for the semi-finals. In general, this fourth row with Justin Schütz from Munich and Parker Tuomie from Straubing was a formation in which every ice hockey fan, according to Tuchel’s diction “fall in love” could.
What is the value of this silver medal?
The World Cup is history. And it has a special place in German sports history. There will be naysayers and finger-snappers complaining about the absence of several NHL superstars from this tournament or pointing out that the Russian team was not allowed to participate for known reasons.
It should only be briefly mentioned here that Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stützle, Lukas Reichel or Philipp Grubauer did not take part in this World Cup for various reasons. Any German ice hockey fan would give a lot to see these three great strikers and the goalkeeper together in a big tournament.
A medial Garden of Eden
One last thought is permitted at this point. After each final siren, the German internationals responded to the questioners in the mixed zone very naturally, turned to them and mostly eloquently. For Sturm, Seider and Captain Moritz Müller, the 100-metre walk past cameras, microphones and notepads sometimes took half an hour.
It made no difference whether they left the ice as winners or losers. The atmosphere was one of respect. This is not a matter of course for every journalist who has had to or was allowed to go vote-catching after international football matches.
And now? Will it go on and start all over again. At the next World Cup, the next Winter Olympics. It is quite possible that this World Cup will remain a one-off event. That’s the sport, that’s the wonderful thing. Wanting to reach for the stars at any time and still being able to experience a crash landing. There are no guarantees, but there is always hope for that one big moment that is the sum of many small moments.