If the Germans were going to win in the preliminaries, their best chance was going to be Saturday’s game against the Czech Republic. Not only did Germany pull off the upset, but the recently-promoted squad did so in convincing fashion. And make no mistake about it, this was no ordinary win. After four years of fighting for a promotion, this group of underdogs, overlooked in the brutal group B, remained astonishingly even-keeled through 60 minutes.
Despite a 6-3 defeat to the Americans less than 24 hours before puck drop, the Germans jumped out to an early lead on Lukas Reichel’s first goal of the tournament.
Germany then doubled their lead when, you guessed it, John-Jason Peterka scored his third goal in two games. Martin Has — a fifth-round pick of the Washington Capitals — then cut the German lead to one with his powerplay goal at the end of the first period.
For better or worse, Germany knew what it meant to be in front after possessing a 3-2 lead over the USA one night earlier. Though they lost their opening game, it was clear that the Germans more than deserved their 2-1 lead heading into the second period against the Czechs.
And if there were any doubts regarding Germany’s legitimacy, Dominik Bokk had not one answer, but two. The Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect scored powerplay goals in the second and third periods to give the Germans a commanding 4-1 lead.
By all accounts, Team Germany had their first win in the bag. What should have been a dull, dump n’ chase style to close out the final ten minutes turned into chaos.
While the officials’ job is certainly a difficult one, it would be tough to argue that the Germans weren’t on the wrong end of a few, shall we say, questionable calls in the final stretch. All in all, the Czech’s were awarded ten — count it — ten powerplays in the game. Perhaps no infraction more baffling than the interference call on Justin Schütz after the forward left the penalty box and found himself in the way of a Czech player.
Jan Jenik and Libor Zabransky both scored for the Czech Republic to make it interesting, but the three-goal deficit was ultimately too large. Despite playing much of the third period shorthanded, the Germans dug in and escaped with a 4-3 victory over the hosts.
Nothing good comes easy, apparently, but there’s no arguing that this win was worth its tense moments. Germany now has a day off between games, but will likely spend a good chunk of time preparing for their game against the Canadians on the 30th.