International Ice Hockey Federation

Germans savour quarter-finals

Germans savour quarter-finals

2nd straight final eight appearance

Published 18.05.2017 20:33 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Germans savour quarter-finals
COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 16: Germany players look on during the national anthem after a 4-3 shoot-out win over Latvia during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
German players bask in the glow of their quarter-final qualification. With a big game ahead against Canada, they prepare for their next big challenge.

Germany’s thrilling shootout win over Latvia put them into the quarterfinals much to the delight of local fans and spectators. Up 2-0, Germany found themselves down 3-2 late in the third period only to tie the game and win it in a shootout. 

“To score with thirty seconds left in the third as Schutz did was amazing,” said a meaning Michael Wolf after the game. “And then for our youngest kid, Frederik Tiffels, to score in the shootout, going five hole was just such a great feeling.”

Qualifying for the quarterfinals in such a dramatic fashion gives German skaters a sense of pride knowing that as the tournament reaches the playoff round, they are still here.

“We came here and watched the tournament from game to game and a couple of tough games but I think we have a great team," said Yasin Ehliz. "Every game we gave 100% and I think we deserve being here. We have been together four weeks now and it is better from day to day."

Fan support has been exceptional at LANXESS Arena and so many of the players have cited it as a main source of encouragement. For Moritz Muller, who lives and plays here in Cologne, this is a memorable homecoming.

“When I got here I had to remind myself this was Cologne,” Muller said. “The logos were different, the other national teams coming in, everything was so different. It is a good feeling, too, because you are familiar with all the stuff that is here. Winning here with the national team in your home town is a very satisfying feeling.”

The 30-year-old Muller has spent his entire career in Cologne. Since 2004, he’s played for the local DEL team the Cologne Sharks but even after a memorable career here, two of the most important games he’s enjoyed in this building have come in the past two weeks.

“I’ve got to say the games against the USA and Latvia I will never ever forget. Playing here at this arena with the national team is just a really good feeling. I am soaking it up and enjoying it.”

Playing Canada will not be easy. The last time Germany defeated Canada at the World Championship was 1996. Since then, Germany has not fared well, including a 5-2 loss last year and a 10-0 rout in 2015.

Germany comes into this with a sense of accomplishment and some optimism that once the puck is dropped anything can happen. 

“We were in the same situation last year we were in the same position in that we made the quarterfinals and went to Moscow to play Russia,” said Muller. “I think then we were satisfied getting there. I think this should be the learning process this year that we want more. Why not give it a shot and give everything we have? We have nothing to lose as the biggest underdog in this game.” 

Since Marco Sturm has taken over the team, he’s had some real achievements to point to. Two World Championship quarter-final appearances in two years and then winning the Olympic qualifier in Riga, Latvia in September have Sturm riding a positive wave as he has fully transitioned from player to head coach.

“We were really happy when we heard he was taking this team over,” Muller said. “I think when you have a coach like Marco you want to play for the coach. It is a little like a love relationship. We want him to be successful and he wants us to be successful. That’s the secret to our success, I think. We saw the energy he brought to the team and that he wants to win.”

Something else that is noticeable about this team is that they truly seem to enjoy playing together and have a bond. So many of these veterans have been on this team for some time, playing for other coaches, but here there is a new enthusiasm and confidence that is apparent.

“This is an amazing group and we are close,” said Wolf. “For Germany, it is a big thing to get a ticket to the Olympics. We had an awesome tournament in Riga last year and came together. After a while you get close to each other and like to play hockey as a team. The longer we are in this tournament the more we enjoy it.”


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