Game 1 of the relegation round is in the books, and Team Germany is a whole heck of a lot closer to staying in the tournament’s top division after a 4-0 victory over Kazakhstan.
The opening 20 minutes of Saturday’s contest was a rather sluggish affair, thanks in part to a 10 AM start in Ostrava compared to the typical 7 PM starts we’ve been accustomed to.
It may have taken a while but wheels were inevitably greased and the Germans eventually cracked Kazakhstan goaltender Nurek Vladislav. Lukas Reichel received a pass from John-Jason Peterka and sniped his second of the tournament just 1:21 into the middle frame.
10 minutes later, Louis Brune scored his first of the tournament to give the Germans a 2-0 lead. Vladislav was nothing short of fantastic as his squad was outshot 19-3 in the second period, but remained down by just two goals.
Halfway through the third period, Peterka put the final nail in the coffin after converting on a beautiful passing play from Reichel and Tim Stützle.
And just for insurance, the Germans went back to their bread and butter — the man-advantage. Kazakhstan took back-to-back penalties in the third period, allowing Germany to showcase its top-end skill.
Stützle and Moritz Seider carved up Kazakhstan’s three-man unit with precision passing before Bokk’s one-timer put the game well out of reach.
Hendrik Hane earned the shutout, stopping all 23 shots he faced in the German goal.
Now five games into the tournament, Team Germany is, well, pretty much where we expected them to be. They scrapped it out through the preliminaries, pulled off an upset against the Czech Republic and dominated in relegation.
While Germany’s upset win over the hosts will surely be a highlight of the tournament, the hard-fought games against Canada and the USA have revealed that Germany is not to be taken lightly at this tournament.
Now, the Germans will have one more opportunity to prove that they belong with the world’s best when they play game 2 of the best-of-3 series.
If Germany wants to remain in the top division, they will once again have to rely on their young stars in Peterka and Stützle for success.
The second game of the relegation round will take place on Saturday, January 4th at 11 AM local time (5 AM EST).
Photo Credit: Deutscher Eishockey-Bund (Twitter)