Putin’s war extends to Finland: Germany plays for the future of ice hockey

Putin’s war spreads to Finland
Germany plays for the future of ice hockey

By Tobias Nordmann

At the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the German national ice hockey team looks to win the gold medal. But instead of the big show, there is a rude stigma – everything should improve at the World Cup. The omens are not optimal, but there is hope(s).

The shadow of Vladimir Putin’s war extended as far as Finland. Not only because the country now wants to quickly join NATO, to be able to counter the provocations of the Kremlin chief with the power of the alliance. Putin’s war in Ukraine is also affecting the Ice Hockey World Championships, which will be held in Helsinki and Tampere from Friday. “Sbornaja”, the always powerful Russian national team, was not allowed to start as a result of the war. It is subject to international embargo. Just like the Belarus team. Because dictator Alexander Lukashenko is seen as an ally of Putin.

From a sporting point of view, the Russian ban is good news for the German selection. Because there is only one country in the group of eight, Canada (joint world champion with Russia). Despite the Olympic disaster, countries like Slovakia and Switzerland are equal opponents of Germany. But where exactly do you measure it in May 2022? Is it somewhat close to the absolute global elite? Or is it a bit far? The answer is pending – and it will be formulated after this tournament.

Germany stumbles against Helsinki with the crushing burden of Beijing’s embarrassment and a very complicated World Cup preparation with poor results, mediocre performance and personnel problems. In the “ice hall” but every heavy weight of the past few months must be examined. Indeed, Germany should make its way back to the global elite at the Hartwall Arena on the ice, but as two Russian oligarchs have hall stakes, the venue has been cancelled. Another shadow of Putin in this tournament.

The team should write a “special” story.

Athlete: German ice hockey has learned a painful lesson in the past few months. Awash in sporting bliss after brilliant performances at past World Championships and the German Cup in November 2021, reality and euphoria have plunged into a fatal imbalance. Beijing should be about gold. After the coup in Pyeongchang four years ago, it wasn’t really a ridiculous announcement – but self-consistency crippled the team’s game. It was over before the quarter-finals. This was the first severe setback under national coach Toni Soderholm. Since the end of 2018, the Finn has continued Marco Storm’s path in great fashion and has boosted his self-confidence with his fissures.

Germany squad for the World Cup

A goal keeper: Dustin Strahlmeier (Grizzlies Wolfsburg), Philipp Grobauer (Seattle Kraken/NHL), Matthias Niederberger (Isbren Berlin); Defender: Dominic Pettner (Grizzles Wolfsburg), Korbinian Holzer (Adler Mannheim), Kai Weissmann (Isbren Berlin), Fabio Wagner (ERC Ingolstadt), Jonas Muller (Isbren Berlin), Moritz Seider (Detroit Red Wings/NHL), Mario Zimmermann ( Detroit Red Wings/NHL .), Moritz Muller (Cologne Sharks); striker: Maximilian Kastner (Red Bull Munich), Taro Jentsch (Iserlohn Roosters), Stefan Lobel (Skelleftea AIK / Sweden), Tim Stutzel (Ottawa Senators / NHL), Matthias Blachta (Adler Mannheim), Daniel Schlumz (Nuremberg Snow Tigers), Samuel Soramis (ERC Ingolstadt), Alexander Ehl (Düsseldorfer EG), Yasin Ehliz (Red Bull Munich), Marc Michaelis (Toronto Marlies/AHL), Daniel Fischbuch (Düsseldorfer EG), Leo Pföderl (Eisbären Berlin), Marcel Noebels (Eisbären Berlin), Alexander Karachon (Schoeninger’s Wild Wings);

Where should the flight go now? Söderholm rejected a specific target. Finn wants to give the team the chance to build their own “story”. It could of course end with the title, but (the story) shouldn’t be thought of from the golden ending. And it is, among other things, that goalkeeper Philipp Grobauer is already doing it again. But it was framed as a motive rather than a goal. Not as in Beijing, when Germany was mercilessly peppered with eloquence from Canada, the United States and Slovakia. “I think we learned a little from the Olympics regarding this offensive expression of expectations,” says Captain Moritz Muller. The danger of ice dream castles isn’t particularly great in Finland either. Unlike Beijing, the team does not arrive with an exhilarating sense of height.

By the way, the Beijing stain was treated and seized. The tenth place out of twelve countries was a personal defeat for the highly ambitious Finn behind the gang. Söderholm no longer wants to talk about mistakes in China. He is concerned with other matters, as he admitted in an interview with the German news agency: “The important question for me is that we can answer the question How do we win matches? We can look at ourselves in the mirror again. In terms of identity. We had high expectations but somehow The way to win is lost.” What is the impact of the matches on the tournament now? “Zero. What does the Olympics have to do with this tournament?”

Some big names are missing

There are currently no arguments in support of ecstasy. The same is not true of the swans at the top of German ice hockey in years past. And so this World Cup becomes the arbiter of the current situation. Within a year, he swung between Top of the World and just Deep. Anyway, the road to a successful return among the best nations is paved. And at the start of the tournament, the team can see where they are and how much work they have to do. Favorite Canada is Germany’s first opponent (Friday, from 7.20pm live on Sport1 and in the videotape on ntv.de) And it comes with tremendous strength from the NHL. Although the best players do not play, they continue to fencing in the playoffs in North America, but the team appears to be cleverly designed with established war horses and rising talents such as Nick Holden, Ryan Greaves, Dawson Mercer or Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Team formation is also a big topic in Germany. For the national coach, it became a huge puzzle – with many setbacks and disappointments. Among other things, he has to do without former NHL players Tom Kunkel (he has won the Stanley Cup twice) and Tobias Ryder. The reasons are unknown. Dominic Cahoun is not there either, he also has NHL experience. The 26-year-old was injured. A list of notable failures can be followed, including Frederic Tevils and Patrick Hager (both Red Bull Munich).

Söderholm, known for his pragmatism, sees things this way: “There are several reasons. If a player is injured, he is injured. If a player has no energy, he has no energy. If a player feels this way he feels that he cannot help the team, then The team doesn’t help either and then we take the next team. There’s nothing for me to argue about.” Now it is also the case that the German selection is still good, even if the tender World Cup hopes of star Leon Drysitl, who is on the verge of extinction with his NHL side Edmonton Oilers, are dashed. The German Ice Hockey Federation said on Thursday that the task was “not a problem”. However, it was not clear from the statement whether this applied to the entire tournament.

Hope to get reinforcements from North America

However, the possibility still exists. The national coach keeps the team’s benches open for nominations of troops from North America. For example John-Jason Peterka, Leon Gawanke or Lukas Reichel. On the other hand, Nico Storm’s chances are rather poor, the Colorado Avalanche team doing well in the playoffs. However, the DEB team does not lack star potential. With Grubauer, Germany has one of the strongest goalkeepers in the world (and with Matthias Niederberger and Dustin Strahlmeier as standouts), even if his season with the Seattle Kraken (new NHL team) hasn’t been great. Unlike Moritz Cider season. The 21-year-old is already considered one of the best defenders in the league, having prepared an astonishing 43 goals for the Detroit Red Wings! Incidentally, Seider has been shortlisted for the Calder Trophy since Wednesday, making him one of only three nominees left for the NHL Rookie of the Year award. The other two candidates are strikers. Then there is Tim Stutzel, who is expected to have a huge career. With his style and creativity, he should inspire the German offensive.

Says Captain Moritz Muller, who, like fellow veteran Corbinian Holzer, wants to take on a leadership role and should. Because the team is younger and less experienced than in previous years. There are exciting rookies in Taro Jentzsch (Iserlohn Roosters), Alexander Ehl (Düsseldorfer EG) and Mario Zimmermann (Straubing Tigers). This should not be a defect. Because speed, strength and greed were things that German ice hockey lost in Beijing. But all this philosophy is nothing for Söderholm, who strives for virtuous humility after the Olympic lesson: “Cold-nosed, humble, hard – this is how we must work so that we can put ourselves in a position where we can be successful. This is not what interests me.”

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