Germany to PyeongChang
Germany to PyeongChang
Worlds co-host qualifies for Olympic Games
Germany made it as one the tournament winners in the three Final Olympic Qualification events. The German men’s national team won the Group E in Riga, Latvia, with a clean record.
The other co-host France was less lucky at Group F in Oslo. The deciding game with host Norway was tied until Mattias Norstebo scored the game-winning goal with 2:29 left in regulation time.
Slovenia, which was promoted to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship last spring, won Group D in Minsk after beating host Belarus in shootout.
In Riga, Germany started with dominant victories against Japan, 5-0, and Austria, 6-0, before facing a Latvian team loudly cheered on at the sold-out Arena Riga with 10,035 fans.
Like in the other games the Germans took advantage of getting the lead first but Latvia battled back from a two-goal deficit and tied the game in the last period.
Leon Draisaitl and Felix Schutz scored the goals for Germany, Miks Indrasis and Martins Karsums for Latvia.
It was Tom Kuhnhackl, who scored the game-winning goal with 5:09 left in regulation time on a power play.
“It feels awesome. We were up 2-0 and they came back and tied the game,” the 24-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins forward said.
“It was tough with their fans in the back but we were lucky to just win in the end. I think the power play was huge for us. We had a couple of power-play goals and in a tournament like this the special teams are huge.”
For the German men’s national team it will be an Olympic comeback in PyeongChang 2018 while Latvia’s streak ended. They have played at every Olympic Games since 2002 and qualified on home ice in Riga for 2006, 2010 and 2014.
“It was a great game. It was tight. It was money-worth for all the fans who came today. We were the lucky ones today. We’re just happy to go to the Olympics,” German head coach Marco Sturm said.
“The power play and [goalie] Grubauer made the difference but it was a great team effort from the first to the last minute. Going to the Olympic Games was our mission and we succeeded against a very strong opponent, it makes us proud.”
Thanks to seven NHL players this edition was one of the strongest German teams ever and Marco Sturm, himself a long-time NHL player, wouldn’t mind keeping it together for PyeongChang.
“To play the Olympic Games is something special, I did it myself. Every player wants to participate and I really hope the NHL will join too,” Sturm said.
But for now it’s party time for the Germans after a strong tournament in Riga. The next big event on the horizon is the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Cologne and Paris, 5-21 May 2017.
Before that the German national team will prepare with several international games including the Deutschland Cup with Canada, Slovakia and Switzerland on home ice in Augsburg, 4-6 November 2016.
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