News : Thigh cramps – sport
Toni Söderholm knew what his team would expect. “Today mistakes will be punished even more severely,” said the coach of the German ice hockey team before the game against Canada at the World Cup in Riga (Latvia): “But that is exactly the challenge we need now. It will make us stronger . ” The German team mastered the challenge brilliantly: After a tough athletic battle, they won 3-1 on Monday evening and celebrated their first World Cup victory since 1996 against the record world champions. “Compliments to the team, how we stood defensively today, that was really extraordinary”, praised goalkeeper Mathias Niederberger on TV station Sport1. With the third win in the third game, the Söderholm team leads Group B, for Canada it was the third defeat.
Canada traveled to Riga with a young team. The 2-0 win against hosts Latvia was followed by a 5-1 win against the USA on Sunday, and it took 111 minutes for the Canadians to score their first tournament goal. That is one of the reasons why the German team went into the game with a lot of self-confidence. “We don’t need to hide from the great nations,” said Lukas Reichel. Söderholm trusted the same line-up for the third time, in goal as the last time against Norway the Berlin Niederberger played. And he made a very good game.
18 of the 20 field players used already have at least one scorer point in their account
The German team also held up well physically – and shocked the Canadians with a double strike within 38 seconds: Stefan Loibl marked the 1-0 (11th) after a nice pass from Tom Kühnhackl, shortly afterwards the target went after a shot by Matthias Plachta from a Canadian’s skate back into the goal (12th). Canada coach Gerard Gallant responded with a time-out and saw Nick Paul make it 2-1 in minute 19.
The German team not only went into the Canada game with the confidence of two clear victories, but also as a united unit. “So far we have succeeded very well in playing as a team,” emphasized captain Moritz Müller. There were ten different German goalscorers against Italy (9: 4) and Norway (5: 1) – 18 of the 20 field players used already contributed at least one scorer point.
Against Canada, the middle third was rougher, Germany got into penalty problems. Söderholm’s team had to play four minutes straight, 1:53 minutes even with only three against five. It survived this dangerous situation but without conceding a goal, as Niederberger parried strongly and exuded a lot of calm. In addition, his front men, above all Kühnhackl and Nico Krämmer, blocked a few shots.
“We really have a lion heart,” said the goalkeeper
In the first two games, the German team played a convincing game in the second third, this time they fought a defensive battle due to the many penalties. Niederberger defused good chances of the Canadians every minute, who established themselves over long distances in the German third. It was “incredibly exhausting”, Niederberger summed up later in front of the television microphone: “In the second third I started with cramps in my thighs. We really have a lion’s heart.” Shortly before the end of the second period, the German team had to survive a three-versus-five shortfall again – and did it again self-sacrificingly.
“We’ll be wearing our work shoes,” Söderholm emphasized before the start of the tournament. These were badly strained against Canada: In the middle third alone, the DEB team blocked an impressive 14 shots. “It’s unbelievable how everyone throws themselves into the shots,” said Loibl in the second third break Sport1. Regarding Niederberger “I don’t need to say much, he is an incredible support,” emphasized the striker. Korbinian Holzer finally made everything clear with a shot into the empty goal (58th).
The German team will continue on Wednesday against Kazakhstan (3:15 p.m.). Not a big name in world ice hockey, but one that also caused a sensation at this surprise World Cup: the Kazakhs have already beaten hosts Latvia and world champions Finland.