Ahen the siren sounded at 2:27 p.m. local time in the “Helsingin Jäähalli”, the first interim goal of the DEB team was reached ahead of schedule: World Cup quarter-finals! Almost 20 hours after the goal frenzy in the 9:4 against Italy, France’s 0:3 defeat against Denmark on Saturday sparked collective jubilation in the selection of the German Ice Hockey Association (DEB). After four wins in a row, the team of national coach Toni Söderholm can no longer be denied a place in the round of the last eight teams after five of seven preliminary round games in Helsinki.
“It’s nice to have reached the quarter-finals two games before the end of the group stage. Of course we still want to score points in the next two games in order to put ourselves in the best possible starting position,” said captain Moritz Müller. The German team, which is third with twelve points, laid the foundation for the knockout stage on Friday with a lot of enthusiasm.
Second to the quarterfinals?
Before the last two preliminary round games against Kazakhstan on Sunday (3.20 p.m.) and against Switzerland on Tuesday (11.20 a.m./both Sport1 and MagentaSport), higher goals were therefore envisaged: “To finish in the top two would of course be really good,” said Lukas Reichel, who had shone in his first World Cup appearance in Helsinki with a goal (26th) and two assists.
Reaching the quarter-finals in second place would have great advantages: Germany would then avoid calibers such as Olympic champions Finland, who were the first team to qualify early for the knockout stages on Friday, and eleven-time world champions Sweden, and also at the current venue can stay in Helsinki.
“Then, of course, the higher we are, the better it would be. I think that’s how we’ll approach the next games and then hopefully leave the field as winners,” said AHL defender Leon Gawanke, who, like Reichel, only arrived in the Finnish capital on Thursday as a substitute and played against Italy for the first time Ice cream stand.
This excellent starting position of the DEB selection is made possible by a surprisingly well-functioning squad, which impressively demonstrated its quality across the board against Italy. In World Cup debutant Alexander Karachun (6th, 43rd), Yasin Ehliz (14th, 42nd) and Daniel Fischbuch (18th, 35th), three strikers had tied double packs. Defender Kai Wissmann garnished his brilliant performance so far with four points.
For Fischbuch, who had already shown strong form in the DEL play-offs, the victory after the three narrow wins beforehand, each with a one-goal difference, was “definitely a pleasure”. Friday’s result could be a good omen: Last year, Germany also beat Italy 9-4 and stormed into the semi-finals in Riga.