Germany in a good mood before the USA game

Germany in a good mood before the USA game

AThe day after, the mood in the German national ice hockey team was completely different. “Frustration was yesterday,” said national coach Harold Kreis. However, only verbally, the 64-year-old did not go on the ice in the training hall in the basement of the Tampere Arena on Sunday. He left the management to his assistants. They seemed to have struck a chord with the players. That there were bitter defeats at the start of the Ice Hockey World Championship on Friday against Sweden (0:1) and Saturday against hosts Finland (3:4)? There was no sign of that during training on Sunday, and there was a lot of cheering and laughing after goals.

Now one should not make the mistake of confusing this looseness with a lack of seriousness. Yes, the selection of the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) sold dearly against two heavyweights in their sport, but no one flew to Finland for a certificate of participation. “We should have earned points, that’s very bitter,” said NHL striker Nico Sturm, knowing full well that things could go on this Monday.

Then it’s off (3:20 p.m. on Sport 1 and Magentasport) against the Americans, who in turn started with two wins and 11:2 goals. So against the next heavyweight. Even a decent performance might not be enough. Then what was to be feared after the game plan was announced would really have happened: that the German team would be without a point after three games and would have to win all of their last four group games in order to be able to reach the quarter-finals.

The management of the DEB was aware of this. So she took precautions and took the Munich sports psychologist Tom Kossak with her. “It helps us a lot to be able to talk to him again and again,” said captain Moritz Müller on Sunday. There had already been several group meetings before the tournament, now there are more in Tampere.

“The mental aspect is one of the biggest parts in sport,” says Müller. The national coach, who has been giving lectures on topics such as conflict management and group dynamics for years, knows this too. However, Kreis is deliberately not in the room during the sessions with the sports psychologist. He wants to give his players freedom. Captain Müller also sees it this way: “It’s good if he’s not there sometimes.”

“Then we win”

But the games are not decided solely in the head with the help of a good attitude. Tactics board and video study are part of the compulsory program. “Winning isn’t something you wish for,” says Kreis, who enjoyed a lot on the first weekend of the World Cup, but not everything. For example, on Saturday “a few situations in the defensive zone” in which the Finns, who kept rotating, “had good chances to shoot too clearly”.

His players would have focused too much on the puck and not seen when one suddenly came rushing, who then used the margin. Two of the four Finnish goals came from margin shots. Goalkeeper Dustin Strahlmeier blamed himself: “I just have to save one more, then we’ll win the game.” But it was the people in front who didn’t clear the rebound. According to Kreis, the goal against the agile and powerful Americans on Monday is “to strengthen the defensive zone so that we don’t give up the good chances from the slot”.

Another problem: the few own shots. Now things went much better offensively against Finland than in the goalless start on Friday. The first of the three goals was “important for the heads”, said Captain Müller. The majority game also looked more goal-oriented, but in the crucial last third the Germans only managed three shots on target. Most of the time they aimed too imprecisely.

In the first two games, they only had 32 shots on target. Good teams can do that in a game. So Kreis demands more degrees. They don’t always have to go straight in, you could also shoot to create a margin: “The opposing goalkeeper is often the best pass player on the ice if you use him correctly.”

Leon Gawanke is one who is particularly good at this. He’s a defender, but one of the most powerful shots in the American Hockey League. Gawanke has scored 20 goals for the Manitoba Moose this season. Luckily for the DEB, that’s over. So Gawanke arrived in Tampere on Sunday. The national coach left open whether he would play this Monday. “We have to see how he feels after the trip,” said Kreis, who announced changes.

Perhaps more will follow in the tournament, because there are still very prominent reinforcements: DEB sports director Christian Künast did not want to rule out NHL star Leon Draisaitl traveling later if he had the time and his team gave the green light. That’s still music of the future. On Monday it’s all about preventing a complete false start against the Americans.

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