Semi-finals against USA: DEB team is hot for a World Cup medal

Semi-final against USA
DEB team is hot for a World Cup medal

The DEB team made it to the semi-finals at the World Cup. photo

© Roman Koksarov/AP/dpa

The self-confidence in the German ice hockey team is huge after reaching the semi-finals. Now the first World Cup medal since 1953 should finally be here. Players and coaches also see opportunities against the USA.

It should finally work on the third attempt. Germany’s ice hockey cracks are hot for the first World Cup medal in 70 years, which they were denied in 2010 and 2021.

Before the semifinals on Saturday (5:20 p.m./Sport1 and MagentaSport) against the USA in Tampere, Finland, many players even feel ready for the first World Cup title on the Whitsun weekend. “Everything is in there now,” said NHL attacker Nico Sturm and goalkeeper Mathias Niederberger in unison, two outstanding performers at this World Cup so far.

After the furious 3-1 (1-0, 2-1, 0-0) win against Switzerland in the quarter-finals in Riga, captain Moritz Müller said: “I think we’re capable of beating all opponents at this World Cup now .” The team of national coach Harold Kreis landed in Tampere on Friday afternoon a good hour late with even more self-confidence thanks to the fighting and playful performance against the Swiss, who have been outstanding at the World Cup so far.

Congratulations from the Chancellor

There, the team immediately heard the next good news: The 2027 World Cup will take place in Germany again. The focus of the current selection is now on the next two games. After the semi-finals on Saturday, either the game for third place or even the first World Cup final in 93 years with German participation is on Sunday in Tampere. “We are respected,” said ex-NHL striker Dominik Kahun about the perception of his team among the top nations. “You see it with everyone: you don’t really know if they want to play us because they just know how we play.” The USA should also be warned against Switzerland after the appearance of the DEB selection. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) congratulated the team. He’s keeping his fingers crossed that they continue.

Like the Confederates, the USA were the first in the German group to walk through the preliminary round in Tampere. The US team’s 3-0 win over the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals was their eighth win in eight games. Although the big names are missing from the US squad, there are at least 15 players from the world’s best league, the NHL. In the preliminary round, Germany had the USA already on the verge of defeat at 2:3. Now national coach Kreis has his team ready for the big coup.

“It will be about sticking to the schedule, playing disciplined,” said the 64-year-old successor to Toni Söderholm, who can already look back on a successful World Cup debut as head coach. The semi-finals on Thursday also briefly upset him. “That touches me,” said Kreis in front of the MagentaSport TV camera and fought back tears.

15 top performers had canceled him before the World Cup. In Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stützle and goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer, three of the best German players from the NHL are not there. In addition, the voluntary renunciation of three of the four best German DEL goalscorers of the past season amazed many. The question of who should score the goals at the World Cup accompanied players and coaches to Finland. In fact, the DEB selection is the team with the second most goals in the World Cup so far.

“You can’t order it to form a team,” said Kreis about his lucky hand in putting together the squad. “One can only hope that a team comes together in the dressing room, that this spirit forms. I’m really happy that the team comes together and develops such a spirit.”

DEB team with positive development

Kreis seamlessly continues the development of its predecessors in this tournament. First under Marco Sturm after Olympic silver in 2018 and then under Söderholm after fourth place at the 2021 World Cup, a sense of entitlement has become established in the team that can no longer be compared to previous years. Fourth place at the home World Cup in 2010 was celebrated as a sensation. Flying home without a medal after reaching the semi-finals two years ago was a disappointment for the current generation of players.

“There are enough guys who know how it felt when you played a really, really good tournament and then just got there without a medal,” said German World Cup top scorer John-Jason Peterka. The 21-year-old NHL forward from the Buffalo Sabers is one of 12 players on the current roster who were involved in the 2-1 draw with Finland in the 2021 World Cup semifinals and the 6-1 draw with the USA in the bronze medal game.

“We will approach this with even more motivation than we did two years ago,” promised Peterka. With the semi-finals of co-hosts Latvia, who surprisingly defeated Sweden in the quarter-finals (3-1), Germany’s chances of a medal have increased again. The outsider plays on Saturday (1:20 p.m.) in the first semi-final against record world champions Canada.


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