Germany’s final roster for the 2020 World Junior Championships has been decided. The talent is there, but is there enough of it to make this team a viable one?
The hope is that head coach Tobias Abstreiter’s roster has the potency to keep them in the Top Division for at least another year. Their top-end talent makes them a team that should not be taken lightly, and they are appear capable of pulling off some surprises along the way.
The Germans have not played in this elite grouping of hockey nations since 2015’s tourney in Toronto and Montreal. 2020 does not see them in a very enviable spot. The Germans find themselves nestled within the Group B powerhouses of USA, Canada, Russia and the hosting Czech Republic.
Regardless of where they end up finishing in the final standings, Germany will be the “fun” team to watch in Ostrava and Třinec. There are a number of players on this team – Moritz Seider, Tim Stützle, and Dominik Bokk – who will someday grace the NHL, and are potential stars.
THW summarizes Germany’s final roster and how those players will impact their country’s chances in this tournament.
Hendrik Hane (Dusseldorfer EG), Tobias Ancicka (Lukko Rauma), Philipp Maurer (EV Landshut).
This will be Hendrik Hane’s third and final U20 tournament. The spry netminder has played for Germany’s U20 team since 2018 and was simply brilliant in net during last year’s gold medal win in Füssen. Hane played in all five games for his country, and in the process garnered the top goals against average (0.98), top save percentage (.949) and the Best Goaltender honors. More importantly, Hane’s performance helped vault the Germans into the 2020 Top Division. There is no real surprise that he was selected to man the crease yet again, and he is likely to see the bulk of the workload.
At 6-foot-1 and over 180 pounds, Tobias Ancicka is the largest of the three German goalies, but he is also the youngest. Not turning 19 until the end of February, Ancicka has played in net for the U18 squad the past two years. He saw about half of the action both in 2018 and 2019, and subsequently helped backstop Germany to a silver and gold respectively. This current 2019-20 season Ancicka has played for Lukko’s U20 team in Finland, putting up a 2.35 GAA and .918 SV% in 17 games. Playing time in the Czech Republic might prove important, as he will be the only goalie on the team who could potentially return in 2021.
Philipp Maurer is of similar size to Ancicka, and we envision him handling the tertiary goaltending role for Germany. Maurer just turned 19 years old on Dec. 2. Having never been previously named to an IIHF U20 tournament, this is his only opportunity for doing so. Maurer has played the majority of his time in the Deutsche Nachwuchsliga (DNL) – the elite junior league in Germany – with occasional appearances in the country’s third tier level of hockey, the Oberliga.
Moritz Seider (Grand Rapids Griffins), Alexander Dersch (Dusseldorfer EG), Eric Mik (Lausitzer Fusche), Niklas Heinzinger (Tolzer Lowen), Daniel Wirt (Lowen Frankfurt), Philipp Mass (Red Bull Hockey Academy), Leon Hüttl (Lowen Frankfurt).
The Germans opted to go with seven blue liners, all of whom possess good size.
Moritz Seider is the quintessential component for this team. He is a big young man, standing at 6-foot-4 and just shy of 200 pounds. The Detroit Red Wings’ opening selection (6th overall) this past summer, Seider captained his team to gold in 2019’s Division I-A U20 championship. Seider was named the tournament’s Best Defender while also having the most points among all blueliners (1-6-7). With seemingly no weakness to his game, expect him to garner some nods for Best Defender this time around too.
At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Alexander Dersch is another sizable defenseman for the Germans. At 19 years of age, Dersch is competing in his first ever U20 tournament for his country. Lanky, lithe and possessing a right-handed shot, he excels more in his own zone. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) fans may recognize Dersch from his 2018-19 season with the Charlottetown Islanders where he played 53 regular season games and recorded 10 assists. Dersch will primarily be utilized in a shutdown fashion and to protect around the German net.
Like Dersch, this will also be 19-year-old Eric Mik’s one and only opportunity to play a tournament for the U20 team. Mik will turn 20 years old on Feb. 28, and has only ever played in one IIHF U18 tournament (2018) previously for his country. He stands 6-foot and 183 pounds, and is one of only three defenders on the team with a left-handed shot. Mik has played 27 games and gone 1-7-8 in scoring for Lausitzer Fusche (DEL 2), in the second tier German hockey league this season.
Dominik Bokk (Rogle Angelholm), Lukas Reichel (Eisbären Berlin), Tim Fleischer (Iserlohn Roosters), John-Jason Peterka (EHC Red Bull Munich), Tim Stützle (Adler Mannheim), Justin Schütz (EHC Red Bull Munich), Dennis Lobach (EHC Red Bull Munich), Luis Schinko (Lowen Frankfurt), Louis Brune (Heilbronner Falken), Nino Kinder (Winnipeg Ice), Yannik Valenti (Heilbronner Falken), Taro Jentzsch (Sherbrooke Phoenix), Jan Nijenhuis (Grizzlys Wolfsburg).
Taro Jentzsch has played two straight seasons in the QMJHL for the Sherbrooke Phoenix. At 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds, he has a thin build but is a crafty playmaker. Through 80 career games with Sherbrooke, Jentzsch has notched 25 goals, 38 assists and 63 points. Last year’s gold medal-run in Füssen saw him score four goals in five games. Three of those goals were a hat-trick by Jentzsch in the final game of the tournament – a 6-1 win over France on Dec. 15, 2018.
Winger Dominik Bokk may need to be German’s most heavy gun at this tournament. A 2018 opening-round selection by the St. Louis Blues, he is currently under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after coming over in a trade. At 19 years of age, Bokk is playing in his third and final U20 tournament for Germany. He served as an alternate captain at last year’s Division I-A competition in Füssen. There Bokk was part of Germany’s gold medal-winning squad, and had the most assists (7) and points (8) among all skaters. At 6-foot-2 and over 180 pounds, he possesses very quick hands and is a solid passer.
Tim Stützle is being heralded as hockey’s next Leon Draisaitl. Just 17 years of age, most experts have him slated to go within the top-10 picks of the 2020 NHL Draft. Stützle is 5-18-23 in 25 games for Adler Mannheim this current 2019-20 Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) season. Playing in his first U20 tournament, he went 3-10-13 in scoring in 10 tournament games played in IIHF U18s.
Lukas Reichel is a familiar name for fans. His uncle Robert scored well over 600 points in the NHL. His nephew will now be playing in his first U20 tournament, and is already having a successful season in Berlin. Reichel is 8-7-15 through 24 games in the top German league. He also was a point-per-game player (3-2-5 in 5 games) in last year’s U18 Division I-A tournament.
The Bottom Line
We believe the Germans have what it takes to stave-off relegation, and make a return in 2021. The talent of players like Bokk, Seider, and Stützle is what will make them enjoyable for fans to behold, and could see them generate an upset or two. In fact, an upset from this team almost seems bound to happen.
For our German fans though, the fear would be that players such as Mik, Dersch, Maurer and others simply do not have a lot of international tournament experience. That is where the lack of depth comes in, and ultimately hurts this club.
We do not anticipate them to medal, but they will make things interesting for sure. Look for the Germans to ultimately finish ninth and retain their top division status.