Thursday, April 21, 2011

Canada off to semifinal vs. US

Press Release

CRIMMITSCHAU – No other loss may be as positive for German hockey as this one.

In a great clash that saw Team Germany match up physically and mentally with the powerful Canadians, Canada managed to survive and win 4-3. Despite the loss, the Germans can hold their heads high with the knowledge that their hockey program is headed in the right direction.

“Our players did a great job, especially after the second period, to take a deep breath, regroup and we were fortunate to capitalize on our chances, because that was as hard fought a game as I’ve ever been involved in,” said Team Canada head coach Mike Williamson following the game.

Canada, will go on to face the United States in the semifinal game on Saturday. It was expected all along that Canada would be making an appearance in the semifinals. After all, this was a nation that routinely competes at the top level, having just last year won the Olympics in men’s and women’s hockey.

All that it would take was a victory against Germany, a team that for all intents and purposes had no business being in the playoffs, but managed to qualify courtesy of a spirited preliminary round campaign. Piece of cake, right?

From the start of the game, though, it wasn’t. The Germans held an advantage of 3,150 supporters, who never let up their (very vocal) support of the team throughout the game. Despite Canada opening up the scoring with a power play goal by Ryan Murray, Germany was outworking the Canadians in both zones, hoping for a mistake that they could capitalize on.

And the Canadian mistakes happened…twice. The first came when Canada took another penalty after just killing off a five-on-three German power play. German forward Leornard Pfoderl was gift-wrapped the puck in the crease after Canadian goaltender Malcolm Subban wasn’t able to corral defenceman Max Meirandres’ shot.

Later in the period on a three-on-two, Pfoderl’s shot hit a Canadian stick and went to Germany’s top forward Tobias Rieder, who fired it through Subban’s legs, putting Germany up 2-1 and sending the crowd wild.

The Canadians played more responsibly in their own zone in the second frame, allowing the Germans less opportunities but in turn limiting themselves offensively. Then penalty trouble hit the Canadians, and Subban was called upon to hold the fort for over a minute and a half as Canada killed off a two-man advantage for the Germans.

Subban held, and an energized Canadian team went on the attack late in the period. With just 11 seconds left on the clock, Murray fired a slap shot from the point that was deflected in front by forward Brett Ritchie to tie the game.

So, with the score at 2-2, the Germans and Canadians took to the ice for the final period. The Germans struck first when Subban gave up a rebound to Alexander Ackermann in front of the net. Ackermann’s goal swayed the momentum once again to Germany’s side, and the spectators grew louder with every puck possession as the possibility of a monumental upset drew nearer.

For Canada, any sort of offence was hard to come by, as Germany pinned the Canadians to the boards and refused them any quality scoring chances. But the Canadians caught a break when forward Lars Grozinger was whistled for holding nine minutes into the third. On the ensuing power play, defenceman Morgan Rielly blasted a slap shot from the point past Germany’s Marvin Cupper for the tying goal.

Canada then began take over the game following the goal, and with just under five minutes left in the game Rielly sent a beautiful pass to Nick Cousins down low beside the net for the tap-in. Canada held on the rest of the period for the period, ensuring they would live to play another day.

For the Germans, it was a fitting end, not because they lost, but because of the way they played against one of the world’s best teams. Throughout the entire game, a German team that wasn’t supposed to even be in the playoffs managed to match the Canadians' physicality and skill, nearly pulling off a stunning upset. Full credit was given to the German team from both the opposition and their fans, who stayed behind after the game to applaud a fantastic tournament for their home team.

“I think they should be very proud of the way they played, because that game could have gone either way,” said Williamson. “It was a hard fought game and it was hockey the way it should be played, it wasn’t dirty but it was physical. There was lots of sacrifice for both teams in blocking shots and just an incredible effort from all the players.”

(Nathan can be reached at

No comments: