Sometimes in sports, it is not enough to know everything about your opponent. Because theory is one thing, practical implementation is another. Tony Söderholm, the Finnish national coach for the German national ice hockey team, knew exactly what his team was expecting at the World Cup in Latvia on Saturday night – after all, it was against his country, who himself won the silver. Player in 2007. “I know how Finland thinks about ice hockey,” Söderholm said before the match with the world champions.
The Finns played just as expected of Söderholm: disciplined, teamwork, tactical, running, and physical strength. The German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) also maintained a good level – but lost 1: 2. It was the second consecutive defeat in the tournament after a 2: 3 against newly promoted Kazakhstan. In their last two group matches against USA (Monday, 15:15) and hosts Latvia (Tuesday, 7:15 pm), DEB will now also have to deal with the pressure the quarter-finals represent, despite starting with three wins, including In that 3-1 against Canada, the flute could still go. “We can’t think much about it,” said striker Tobias Ridder. “It’s not over yet,” said defender Corbinian Holzer, shooter at the interim draw.
Söderholm said no team had felt refreshed at the end of the group stage. He now called for “everyone to take the next step” – especially mentally, because what is happening now is “really a matter of head.”
Dominic Cahon should help prevent fatigue from developing. “It will give us more momentum,” says the national coach
Nine goals in the first World Cup match (against Italy), then five (against Norway), three (Canada), two (Kazakhstan) and now only one goal – the German scoring has steadily declined over the course of the tournament, which was a lot with the quality it should have. The opponent performed, which rose after the opening games. Söderholm said after the Finland match, perhaps the “last installment” was missing in attack. Defender Moritz Sider emphasized that it would be “just scoring goals” against the United States. “We are having a little difficulty getting over this thing.” Ideally, Dominik Kahun on Monday can help. As of Saturday, Soderholm has not thought about which Edmonton Oilers striker he will play in a row, but he is convinced that Kahun will “give us more offensive momentum”.
Whether Lukas Reichel is an option on Monday remains open. The 19-year-old striker, who behaved very clearly in the first three matches of the Berlin series with Marcel Neubels and Leo Pfudderl, paused against Finland after checking his head in the Kazakhstan match. Söderholm reports that Reichil was performing very well after training on Saturday. Sunday’s investigations by the team of doctors and physiotherapists should clarify. The ideal is: “His health is the most important,” emphasized the national coach.
Söderholm’s answer to the question of why his team had so few chances against Finland was clear: “Because we played against a very well organized team that was very good and didn’t allow much.” You have to come very quickly to break through the Finns’ defense, “Maybe we weren’t at the level we wanted to be.” DEB statisticians counted fifteen German goal-scoring chances (according to IIHF 13 on goal from the International Federation). Internationally this value is good, as Söderholm said, “You can’t get more than that.” Especially against the Finns, who had only conceded five goals in their first four matches in the tournament. “Even when the defenders shoot from the blue line, a shot rarely passes,” said Munich’s John Jason Petrca, who made his World Cup debut as Andreas Eder and Daniel Fishbusch.
“Every pill in the goal is a good disc,” remembers Holzer, the goalkeeper
For a long time, the DEB team struggled to get any deals whatsoever. By combining team unity, toughness, technique and tactical understanding, the Finns explained why they described Holzer as a “very unpleasant” opponent. All this completes Jukka Jalonen’s side at a breakneck speed: “four classes faster than usual” is the pace, as the Straubing striker Eder stunned. When Sider had to go to the bench, the Finns had eight seconds more to equalize 1-0 (7). The striker was 19-year-old Anton Lundell.
In the middle third, the German team adapted better for the world champion – and suddenly tied. Holzer’s shot from the blue line collided with the net somewhat surprisingly, because his defensive teammate Moritz Muller removed the Finnish goalkeeper Josie Ulknora (28). “Every disc in the net is a good disc,” said Holzer, who has already scored against Canada (in the empty net), with a rule of thumb.
In the last 20 minutes the intensity increased again. But the Finns took advantage of German neglect in the neutral zone in the decisive goal 2: 1 by Arttu Ruotsalainen (52nd). Söderholm said he had conceded his “annoying” goal: “These are things that can happen when you’re tired.” Fatigue must now be overcome quickly – or deal with it well. One must now “be able to make the right decisions even when tired,” Soderholm stressed before the quarter-finals.