They had hit the post and crossbar three times, once even in the goal. But in the end, the weakness in the finals cost them progress and the chance of the first German World Cup medal in 69 years. With the 1:4 (0:2, 0:1, 1:1) against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals at the World Cup in Finland it was the end for the German team, who allowed themselves too many penalties and could not take their chances.
A year after the semi-final coup in Riga, the selection of national coach Toni Söderholm could not use the tailwind of the strong preliminary round. Like three years ago, the highly efficient Czechs came to the end of the line, Moritz Seider’s goal in the 54th minute came too late and was not enough. “I’m very proud. The boys did a lot of things right. Many players have played their first tournament. But of course I’m still very disappointed,” said Söderholm.
After all, the DEB selection had previously corrected the disappointing impression of the early failure at the Olympics with the best World Cup preliminary round of a German team. After five victories in the seven group games, many spoke of the precious metal. But an early penalty for the Munich striker Yasin Ehliz and the well-played number hit by the Czech NHL star David Pastrnak in the 3rd minute had an immediate dampening effect.
And the Czechs, reinforced with nine NHL professionals, also used the second majority coldly. Roman Cervenka completed a fine combination to make it 2-0 (11th) when Düsseldorf striker Daniel Fischbuch was in the penalty box. The Germans had previously had the fewest penalties of all teams in the tournament and thus rarely got themselves into trouble by being outnumbered.
“The Czechs played very disciplined and hard. The two goals we conceded made us a little too passive,” said Söderholm.
Even in the middle of the first third there was little to suggest that the German team could improve on the previous record of only four wins in 31 World Cup games against the Czech selection. The revenge for the bitter end three years ago at 1: 5 in the World Cup quarterfinals in Bratislava was a long way off.
Söderholm’s protégés only had chances to score at the end of the first period, attacker Lukas Reichel from the second-class North American professional league AHL hit the post (19th). Tactically well adjusted, the Czechs strangled the German team in phases in its own third. Even the first majority in the middle of the second part of the game was unsuccessful for the DEB selection.
Instead, the next penalty and the next blow to the neck followed. Defender veteran Korbinian Holzer had to leave, David Krejci scored to make it 3-0 (33rd). The fact that polar bear attacker Marcel Noebels failed again shortly afterwards at the post matched the used day of the Germans. “We had too much respect,” admitted young NHL star Seider before the final third.
The DEB selection was able to do this in a superior manner and hit the crossbar for the third time in total. A courageous decision by the national coach was responsible for the only goal.
Nine minutes before the end, Söderholm took a full risk, taking keeper Philipp Grubauer off the ice in favor of another attacker when he was outnumbered. “Why should we wait any longer? We had to attack that,” explained Söderholm later. The reward was Seider’s long-range goal to make it 1:3. But the turning point was no longer successful. Jiri Smejkal (59th) hit the empty goal. A very strong last third of the Germans was ultimately not enough.