Whe attends the games of the ice hockey world championship, can pass the many breaks with a little guessing game: What is the number of spectators announced this time? It usually appears significantly higher than what the view through the hall suggests. So also on Thursday in Riga, where Germany and Switzerland faced each other. Supposedly in front of 2896 visitors, which nobody really wanted to believe. And even if that was true, it was a meager backdrop for a World Cup quarterfinals.
But that was no longer noticeable in the final phase, because the German bank was their own fan base. When goalkeeper Mathias Niederberger made a save, when one of the men in front held a part of his body in a shot, when someone pushed the puck out of their own third with the last of their strength – then the rest of the team jumped up, thundered their stick in front of the rink and cheered.
Circle: “Then it’s about time again”
“My pulse was over 200. It was unbelievable how everyone threw themselves into every shot,” said JJ Peterka afterwards, who cheered on particularly diligently. What went down well with those who made it 3-1 over time and thus qualified for the 2026 Olympics: “The reaction on the bench showed how we play for each other,” said Nico Sturm, who this Saturday (17.20 Uhr/Sport 1 and MagentaSport) wants to see the same thing in the semifinals against the United States: “Of course they have the better individual players, but we will throw everything into the balance.”
If that is enough again, the selection of the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) will be in the final against Canada or Latvia on Sunday evening. But even if it doesn’t work out against the Americans, there would still be a chance on Sunday afternoon to win the first World Cup medal in 70 years in the bronze medal match. A number that not even the national coach had on the screen: “No, I don’t know. Then it’s about time again,” said Harold Kreis, when he arrived in the interview zone at the written press after the victory over Switzerland. There he was again the confident media professional who can’t be upset by anything.
Shortly before that, on the MagentaSport TV microphone, it looked different, when he seemed about to burst into tears. One had never seen Kreis like this before. He’s been in the business for almost 45 years and seems to have seen and experienced everything. But the past few weeks have done something to him.
The skepticism he encountered because at the age of 64 he is so different from his predecessors Toni Söderholm and Marco Sturm. The many cancellations from injured players or those who didn’t feel like going to the World Cup after a long club season. The mixed test match results. The three defeats at the start of the World Cup, which the DEB selection has only experienced knockout games since the middle of the group phase: “The team had elimination game number five today,” emphasized Kreis, “but they are going with this one situation confidently.”
It does indeed – and has steadily increased. The quarterfinals were now the highlight. “A day for us that couldn’t have come any better,” said Marcel Noebels, who previously announced that he and his colleagues “will definitely need a few ice packs after the game”. That’s how it was after all the blocked shots. And yet it wasn’t a defensive battle, the Germans managed their fourth win in a major tournament in a row against the always favored Swiss because they kept up with the game. What Kreis was less surprised: “Yes, yes, we can already play hockey.”
That will also be necessary against the Americans on Saturday. Although there are hardly any big names from the NHL, there are many young, highly talented people who are technically fine and fast. They are the only World Cup team to have won every game so far, including against the Germans in the group phase, who accordingly go into the semi-finals as outsiders.
But with all the more self-confidence. Because they celebrated five wins in a row. And because they now see themselves further than when they reached the semi-finals in 2021, when in the end it was only enough for fourth place. At that time, the German team lost 2-1 to the Finns in the semifinals. “It’s probably an advantage that we’ve been in this situation before,” said captain Moritz Müller. “It’s great for us to have another chance. And this time we want to get something.”
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