Germany center MARCEL GOC (57), the experienced 29-year-old veteran who totaled nine goals and 19 points in 42 National Hockey League games for the Florida Panthers this season, shields the puck from Austria center DAVID SCHULLER (45) of AC Klagenfurt during border battle that was the IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Faultless penalty-killing and a late second period goal scored following a sensational solo rush from center ice allowed previously winless GERMANY to post a 2-0 shutout victory over traditional Alpine arch-rival AUSTRIA in a critical Group H contest at the 2013 IIHF World Championships.
Austria trainer EMANUEL VIVEIROS, the well-traveled native Canadian who skated 29 National Hockey League games for the Minnesota North Stars before embarking on a long career in Europe, made very few changes to the squad that punched its ticket to the XXII Winter Olympic Games by winning the Group E Qualification Tournament held in Germany just a few short months ago. Indeed, fifteen of the very same Austrian skaters as well as the stubborn starting goaltender who had collectively held out for the necessary draw at the end of regulation time against Deutschland at the EgeTrans Arena in Bietigheim-Bissingen also returned to face-off with the Germans in Helsinki. Furthermore, adding scoring power to the Oesterreich side was none other than THOMAS VANEK, the star left wing who totaled 20 goals and 41 points in 38 NHL games for the Buffalo Sabres this season.
Meanwhile, Deutschland trainer PAT CORTINA, in direct contrast, replaced eleven of the twenty German skaters who could only triumph against the Austrians in Bietigheim-Bissingen after extra time had been played; freshly arrived in Finland from North America and ready for to make his debut at his year’s IIHF World Championships opposite Oesterreich at the Hartwall Arena was Germany national team veteran JUSTIN KRUEGER, the 26-year-old defenseman from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.
Austria star left wing THOMAS VANEK (26), the 29-year-old University of Minnesota product who has scored 250 goals in 585 career games skating for the Buffalo Sabres in the vanunted National Hockey League, is shadowed by Germany defenseman JENS BAXMANN (15) of Detusche Eishockey Liga champion Eisbaeren Berlin during the IIHF World Championships – Group H contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Unlike the pivotal Olympic qualifier at Bietigheim-Bissingen where the Germans decisively outshot the Austrians 35-19 in regulation time, the opening period at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki was a wide-open, back-and-forth affair with both teams combining to generate an almost evenly divided twenty-six shots.
Oesterreich had the best opportunity of the opening period when the Germans saw left wing YANNIC SEIDENBERG of Adler Mannheim and NHL-Star CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF of the Buffalo Sabres both sitting in the penalty box at the same time. The Austrian captain THOMAS KOCH of AC Klagenfurt had a glorious chance at the right side of the net near the end of the two-man advantage but Germany goaltender ROB ZEPP stretched out his left leg just in the nick of time. The NHL goal-shark Vanek took his chance with the rebound but was denied by the native Canadian who has now won five Deutsche Eishockey Liga titles in six seasons with Eisbaeren Berlin.
Austria started the second period on the power play after veteran Germany center CHRISTOPH ULLMANN of Adler Mannheim was assessed a slashing minor at the 20:00 mark of the match. The impotent Austrians also skated with the man-advantage for a fourth time in succession after Germany defenseman FRANK HOERDLER of Eisbaeren Berlin was caught hooking with little more than four minutes having expired in the second session. But Zepp, who was starting no less than his third international contest for Germany against the neighboring arch-rivals from Austria on this 2012/13 campaign, was not about to concede on this day.
It was a fine way for the resilient German netminder to rebound from his own personal debacle in the preceding IIHF World Championships contest against Slovakia, to be certain.
Germany center PATRICK HAGER (50) of ERC Ingolstadt, the 24-year-old former Rosenheim Star Bulls and Krefeld Pinguine attacker who notched the game-winning goal for Deutschland against Oesterreich at the Albert Schultz Halle in Vienna this past September in the third period of the so-called “Jubilaeum Laenderspiel” staged in conjunction with the 100th anniversary celebration of the Austrian Ice Hockey Federation.
It was not until center DAVID SCHULLER of AC Klagenfurt was sent to the penalty box for holding just one minute past the halfway point of this Group H match at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki that the Austrians, themselves, were finally forced to skate shorthanded.
Germany’s new captain Ehrhoff put three of his game-high four shots on target in the second period but was denied each time by in-form Austria goaltender BERNHARD STARKBAUM of Swedish Elitserien club Mo Do Ornskoldsvik; as for Deutschland center MARCUS KINK, it was his third shot of the contest which proved to be the charm that broke a German scoring drought against stingy Austria at the annual IIHF World Championships that had been approaching a full decade, itself.
The 28-year-old Adler Mannheim attacker picked up a loose puck in center ice and breezed past one player in the netural zone. After crossing the blue line, the ambitious Kink knifed right through two Austria defenders and burst in on net all alone. A simple wrist shot was all it took for Germany to break the scoreless deadlock precisely at the 17:00 mark of the second period.
Kink’s third career goal for Deutschland at a major international tournament ended a negative streak for Germany of having not scored a goal against Austria at the annual IIHF World Championships for an astonishing 140 minutes and 50 seconds. That, to put things in perspective further, is the equivalent of two complete games plus just a little over another entire period. Germany national team veteran ALEXANDER BARTA, the teammate of the Austrian netminder Starkbaum with Swedish side Mo Do Ornskoldsvik this past season who was among those dropped by the trainer Cortina after the Olympic qualification disaster, was the last player to score a goal for Deutschland against Oesterreich at the IIHF World Championships (in the first period of the 2-2 draw with the Austrians at the 2005 edition in Vienna).
Germany’s work was not done, however, as Zepp, himself, picked up two minutes for tripping with only six seconds to play until the second intermission. But Cortina’s charges were successfully able to kill off that penalty as well as the holding infraction that was whistled on Koelner Haie right wing FELIX SCHUETZ roughly eight minutes into the third period. In fact, the Germans did not just shut down the opposing power play but, indeed, short-circuited the entire Austrian attack throughout virtually the whole final frame.
There would be no repeat of events in Bietigheim-Bissingen, where the Germans, in a fateful third period of play, had tragically failed to protect what had already been gained. Clearly having learned that painful lesson, Germany went on to dominate possession while outshooting Austria 11-3 in the last twenty minutes at the Hartwall Arena. There was one last power play to be dealt with after Germany defenseman TORSTEN ANKERT of Koelner Haie, the 24-year-old rearguard who is appearing at a major international tournament for the very first time ever, was boxed for interference at the 58:28 mark of the match.
Not surprisingly, the Oesterreich trainer Viveiros used the occasion to exchange the goaltender Starkbaum with an extra attacker in order to provide the trailing Austrians with what amounted to another two-man advantage on the power play. The NHL star Vanek had one last big chance and boomed a slapshot shot from the left face-off circle but the Buffalo Sabres winger was denied by the determined Zepp, who originally spent four years playing professional hockey in North America but passed almost all of that time with the Florida Everblades in the lower level East Coast Hockey League.
Kink was awarded his second goal of the game after stealing the puck from Vanek in the neutral zone just outside the Austrian blue line. The influential native of Duesseldorf, who netted only 11 goals after 67 games in all competitions this term for Adler Mannheim, missed his attempt at the wide open net but had been ruthlessly chopped down in the process by the obviously frustrated defenseman THOMAS POCK, the 31-year-old University of Massachusetts – Amherst product who skated this past season with the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League. It was an open and shut case for a penalty shot, which was, with Oesterreich having already pulled its goaltender, simply awarded to the Germany center by the match referees.
Germany goaltender ROB ZEPP (72) of Deutsche Eishockey Liga champion Eisbaeren Berlin focuses on the puck with lethal Austria star left wing THOMAS VANEK (26) of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres lurking on the doorstep during the Alpine border battle that was the IIHF World Championships Group H tussle at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
IIHF World Championships
Group H – Helsinki, Finland
Hartwall Arena – attendance : 6,820
referees : Bulanov (Russia) and Croft (United States)
GERMANY 2 – AUSTRIA 0
37:00 … GER – Kink (unassisted)
59:51 … GER – Kink (unassisted) – shg, eng
shots-on-goal : GER 35 – AUT 27 … penalty minutes : GER 16 – AUT 10
GERMANY : Zepp – Ehrhoff, Ankert; Baxmann, Hoerdler ; N. Goc, Mueller ; Krueger – Rankel, M. Goc, Schuetz ; Gogulla, Ullmann, Wolf ; Seidenberg, Kink, Tripp ; Pietta, Hager, Mauer ; Greilinger
AUSTRIA : Starkbaum – Pock, Lakos ; Unterluggauer, F. Iberer ; Schumnig, Lukas ; Altmann – Vanek, Koch, Latusa ; Welser, Schuller, Kristler ; Raffl, Hundertpfund, Herburger ; Peintner, Oberkofler, Baumgartner ; M. Iberer
NOTES — Germany captain CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF led all skaters with 26:08 of ice time while his constituent in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres, Austria left wing THOMAS VANEK, was the next most utilized on either side with 23:13 of ice time … Germany defenseman FRANK HOERDLER of Eisbaeren Berlin logged 19:18 of ice time while NHL legionnaire MARCEL GOC of the Florida Panthers, with 16:50 of ice time, skated the most among all Deutschland forwards.
“It’s definitely nice to beat Austria. It’s never easy. They did find a way to steal the Olympics from us. So it’s not really much revenge, because they’re still going to the Olympics,” stated Germany national team right wing JOHN TRIPP of Koelner Haie, the 36-year-old NHL veteran who represented Deutschland at the Winter Olympic Games hosted by his native Canada in 2010.
Germany goal-scoring hero MARCUS KINK of Adler Mannheim along with left wing MICHAEL RAFFL of Swedish second division club IF Leksands, the developing 24-year-old who led Austria with five shots on target in the contest, were selected as the Players of the Game.