Germany will face the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) for the Gold Medal in Olympics Men’s Hockey. The Canadian men’s team lost their semi-final game to Germany 4-3. To say it was shocking is an understatement.
Few expected the German team to be so strong or so effective. The Germans were simply hungrier. Their relentless pressure in the second period gave Germany the lead they would need to send Canada to the consolation game for Bronze against the Czech Republic.
Just a day after the Canadian women lost in a gold medal game to the US Women’s Hockey Team, Canadians are wondering what is going on?
The Canada and Germany Rivalry
There was much mirth in the run-up to the game. Canada versus Germany? Haha.
Germany-Canada in the semifinals at the Olympics! Two old hockey rivals meet again on hockey's biggest sta…I can't do it.
— Conor McKenna (@mckennaconor) February 21, 2018
No one is laughing now. Last year, Germany and Canada battled in 2017 IIHF World Championship. Canada won 2-1. It was not the first close match between these two nations. Not many seem to remember the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville.
In the quarterfinals, Germany defeated the Canadians, only losing in a shootout. Peter Draisaitl, the father of Oilers’ star Leon, shootout attempt stopped right on the goal line, creating one of the most iconic moments in German ice hockey history.
Road to the Olympic Semi-Finals
In a 2018 Olympics Semifinals Preview for THW, Alessandro Seren Rosso noted, Germany was the underdog against Switzerland and came out as surprise winners against Team Sweden. They started out slowly. The team lost its first two games against Finland 5-2 and Sweden 1-0. They rebounded to win its final preliminary round game against Norway 2-1 in a shootout. In the knockout phase of the tournament, the Germans played very hard against both Switzerland and Sweden. While the Germans needed overtime to beat Switzerland 2-1 and Sweden 4-3, their play has been characterized as focused and physical. The German team has been “winning by outmuscling the opponents and being tougher than them.”
After jumping out to a 4-1 lead, Canada cut the lead in the third period, scoring on the power play and bought the game to 4-3 with more than ten minutes remaining. The German team just never gave up. Led by coach and general manager Marco Sturm, the team seemed to frustrate the Canadian team with wave after wave of sustained attack.
Sturm was a journeyman winger played in the NHL for a number of teams including the San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals, Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers. In 938 games, he scored 242 goals and 487 points.
Sturm became the national team coach in 2015. Since then, the team has reached the IIHF World Championship quarterfinals twice and now the Olympic semifinals. He has made no secret of his interest in getting back to North America to coach. Based on his performance at these Olympics, he could conceivably return to North America as an assistant in the NHL or maybe even a head job in the American Hockey League.
The Germans are a team without any true superstars. Sturm’s German Olympic team relies on Aus den Birken in goal. He plays for Munich where he splits duties in net with U.S. netminder David Leggio. On defense, former NHLer Christian Ehrhoff is one of the true leaders of the team, along with former NHLer and captain Marcel Goc.
There are other players to watch. This includes defenseman Yannic Seidenberg, younger brother of Islanders’ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. Dominik Kahun is another interesting player on the German team. While Kahun was not drafted, he is a great skater one of the leading German scorers in the German league.
Only one player, Patrick Hager, scored more than one goal in the tournament before the semi-final. He scored the game-winner in the second period.
By winning the semifinal against Canada on Friday, Marco Sturm’s team made history. Germany has only ever won one Olympic bronze medal in ice hockey, which came back in 1976. In Germany, that success is still known as the wonder of Innsbruck. They now have a chance for their own Miracle on Ice.
“We always talked about this dream,” said Patrick Reimer, who scored the game-winner in overtime against Sweden. “Now we did it. We reached something really big, but there is still more possible.”
The Gold Medal game between Germany vs. OAR will be broadcast on Feb. 24 in North America, at 11:10 PM EST, and replayed on Feb. 25.