International Ice Hockey Federation

Defending champ rolls on

Defending champ rolls on

Canada beats Germany, faces Russia in SF

Published 18.05.2017 23:12 GMT+2 | Author Andy Potts
Defending champ rolls on
COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 18: Canada's Jeff Skinner #53 celebrates with Nate MacKinnon #29, Mark Scheifele #55, Josh Morrissey #7 and Colton Parayko #12 after scoring a second period goal against Germany during quarterfinal round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Canada kept its dream of a three-peat alive, but Germany proved to be a pesky opponent in front of a partisan crowd in Cologne.

The Canadians booked their place in the last four and set up a mouth-watering showdown against Russia – but if the outcome of the quarter-final against Germany was predictable, the host nation put up some brave resistance against the defending champion.

Germany defended doggedly, goalie Philipp Grubauer was inspired with 48 saves, and it was deep in the second period before Canada finally achieved a measure of comfort with its second goal. Even then, the Germans conjured a short-handed goal to keep the dream alive into the closing minutes before slipping to a 1-2 defeat.

German forward Patrick Reimer was full of praise for his netminder after a brave display that came close to frustrating the tournament favourite.

"We had great goaltending by Gruby," he said "It was our goal not to give up too much. He was giving us a chance to stay in the game. Then that late goal gave us momentum. Ehrhoff is one of our best d-men and played in the NHL for a long time and he had a good view with that pass to Yanic who finished and that gave us a boost and we thought we could tie up the game but it didn't happen."

The early exchanges favoured the Canadians. A freakish bounce off the glass almost gifted Matt Duchene the opening goal in the third minute and second later Ryan O’Reilly hit the post from close range. But Germany dug in, and the game settled into a surprisingly even contest – albeit one in which the host was struggling to really hurt Canada’s defence.

With the Canadian power play boiling over at 48%, Germany could ill afford to take penalties. When the whistle blew on Patrick Reimer’s trip, the offer was too good for Canada to turn down. Its first PP of the game delivered the opening goal in the 18th minute. Mitch Marner played the puck to O’Reilly on the red line. O’Reilly mis-controlled the pass, but recovered to set up Mark Scheifele for a close-range finish inside Grubauer’s near post.

Goalscorer Scheifele said that the key thing was to keep progressing as a team.

"You want to build on each and every game that is what you have to do in this tournament, both as a team and as a player," he said. "We took another good step tonight and we have to take more and more steps as the tournament goes on. It has been a fun ride so far, hopefully we can keep on making it fun."

The opening goal wasn’t enough to open the floodgates. Indeed, had Yannic Seidenberg managed to get a touch as the puck flew in front of Calvin Pickard, Germany might have tied the game off the next play. Instead, it dug deep and made Canada work hard for that game-breaking goal.

Did Canada dominate? Yes, to the extent that 15 minutes into the second period Pickard was still waiting to make his first save of the session. Did Germany crumble? Not a bit of it. Grubauer pulled off the big saves, getting his body behind a Duchene rocket after a delightful passing move cut an elegant swathe through the home zone and denying Claude Giroux after the Canadian PP presented the team captain with a clear shooting chance from the left dot.

"What can you do when you run up against a goalie like him?" asked Canada's Chris Lee. "He was fantastic. We put pressure on him all night, we created chances but in the end we got the win, and that's what matters for us."

A moment of controversy soon followed when Giroux won a face-off and O’Reilly fired the puck into the net, only for a delaying the game call to wipe out the goal. Giroux went to the box after two Canadian violations on the same draw; behind the bench, the frustration was palpable. Germany’s solitary shot of the stanza came during that power play, but Pickard was not seriously inconvenienced.

If Canada was starting to worry about when a second goal would arrive, relief came on 38:08 when Jeff Skinner got the job done. Mike Matheson’s effort from the blue line was blocked, but Skinner was strong on top of the crease – aided by a tiring and overworked German defence – and stuffed home the rebound.

"We played really well," insisted Wayne Simmonds. "If there was anything we needed to do differently, it was put a few more pucks in the back of the net. We did what we wanted to do and played a strong game for sixty minutes and, like I said, we just needed to score a few more goals."

Even then, Germany wasn't quite done. After bringing more offence in the final frame, the reward came with 6:39 left to play. For once, Canada's PP faltered as Christian Ehrhoff played the puck out from beyond his goal line and sent Yannic Seidenberg off to the races. The forward got everything right, getting up close and waiting for Pickard to commit before slotting the puck into the net to get the home  crowd believing once again.

The miracle never came. Canada played out the closing moments in a wholly professional manner, keeping Germany trapped in its own end and unable to call Grubauer to the bench for one final assault. But while the victory went, as expected, to the Canadians, the host nation bowed out of the tournament with much to be proud of.

"Our goal was to be in the eight nations," Reimer concluded. "If we had more offence we thought we stood a better chance but it didn’t happen today."


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