Winger Matthias Plachta, 22, is coming off a championship season with Mannheim Adler of the German DEL in which he had a total of 19 goals, 44 points and a +20 rating over 62 games. At 6’2” and 205 pounds, the national team winger has been gaining international attention while contributing two goals to the very low-scoring German effort at this tournament.
Hockey’s Future had a chance to talk to Plachta after Germany’s final game against Austria, a 3-2 overtime penalty shot loss.
Hockey’s Future: This game was kind of a win for both teams, although you lost to an archrival on penalty shots. With it, Germany completely erased all chances of being relegated. How do you feel about ending the tournament like this?
Matthias Plachta: Sure, we’re happy to have avoided relegation and that was an absolute priority, but I can’t say that we’re feeling good right now. You never want to lose and this loss hurts. This isn’t how we wanted to end the tournament and it’s a disappointment. Congrats to an Austrian team that got the job done.
HF: You were part of Mannheim Adler and just won the DEL championship in Germany. You had little time to celebrate before heading to the Czech Republic. But how does it feel to be a champion at such a young age?
MP: It was wonderful. We had an incredible team with an excellent group of guys and coaching staff. There were a lot of high expectations and there were a lot of bumps in the road to the championship, but I wouldn’t exchange the experience for anything. It was clearly the best season of my career and I grew a lot as a player this year, learning that it takes a lot more to win than a person normally can imagine.
HF: Will you make up on lost celebration time, now that this tournament is over?
MP: This has been a very good experience here at the World Championships, but it has been draining in many ways. It’s a lot of hockey in a short period of time. We achieved one of, but not all of our goals. I am looking forward to heading home. Then we’ll see what comes next after some time off.
HF: You surely followed what happened with David Wolf, who was signed last summer by the Calgary Flames and headed to North America to become part of an NHL organization. How are things looking for you? Is that a career step you’d like to emulate?
MP: Personally, I’m open for anything. This past season was really a pretty good one for me and I took some major steps in development. It’s now up to other people to decide if they feel I’ve got the potential for that. As far as I am concerned, I definitely want to take that step.
Second-year NHL forward Michael Raffl spent this past winter becoming an integral piece of the Philadelphia Flyers and the most effective Austrian player in the NHL. Having taken huge steps in development in a quick period of time, he’s now a cog for his national team, which will face Canada on May 12th to conclude the preliminary round. First, they’ll be watching the French take on the Latvians. For Austria, a French victory in overtime will relegate them out of the world’s elite.
Hockey’s Future: Another epic battle against archrival Germany, this time with Austria coming out on top with a 3-2 shootout victory. Your thoughts right now?
Michael Raffl: We’ve played Germany a bit recently including test games and we outshot them and outplayed them all three times, but the puck didn’t always bounce our way. That’s how things are in such competitions. I think this victory is indicative of the character in the locker room. We come to work every day. We stick together. We have a very young group of guys and it’s understandable that we break down in certain situations. There may be times when veteran players could help you out, but this is all a learning process. We’ve played an outstanding tournament thus far defensively and it’s an attitude thing.
HF: Two points today against Germany. How is Austria feeling right now?
MR: It’s always good to get the win, but having the lead with just two minutes to go and then seeing the game get tied up, well it’s pretty disappointing that we couldn’t pull off the regulation win and get the full three points. I mean, they only had like 11 shots on our net. Now we have to see what happens in the France vs. Latvia game. It does feel good and gives us a much better chance to stay in the A pool.
HF: Tomorrow you’ll face Canada, a team filled with NHL stars. What are your thoughts on that overbearing opponent?
MR: That’s an All-Star team. You usually get that glimmer in your eye when you get to stand on the ice with players of that caliber. But if you just spend your time thinking about how great they are, you’re not going to win anything. But if everyone gives everything he can and actually looks at those opponents with the belief that, say, today I’m better than that Giroux guy, then there’s a shot. It’s a super chance. Every guy has got to have with a game like that. We’ll prepare and then give it our all and end this tournament with a smile on our face.
HF: Just a few years ago, you played for Leksand in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, their second highest pro league. Now you’re an NHL regular. Did you truly expect things to turn out this way three or four years ago?
MR: Well, it was always my goal, yes. I have put a lot of work and effort into my career and if you work hard and be consistent about it, it’s going to pay off sooner or later.
HF: How was this past season for you personally in Philadelphia?
MR: You can’t be too happy about not making the playoffs, especially in Philly. Teamwise, it was ultimately disappointing. For me personally, I took another step forward and that’s all I focus on personally – namely getting better. I think I’ve gotten better over the past few years.
HF: So it’s safe to say that you’re enjoying life in the NHL?
MR: Yes, I had been dreaming about being in the show since I was a kid. Once there, you’re at the top of your career and you’re playing your best hockey when you’re 26. What’s there not to enjoy about it?
HF: Your older brother, Thomas Raffl, is captaining this Austrian team. He’s 6’4”, 235 pounds and is coming off a championship season in Salzburg. In fact, with 62 points, it was also his best pro season to date. Any chance you might be able to help get your brother a job overseas?
MR: It’s all up to him. I can’t help him with that. I’m not going to go to my GM and as ask him to bring my brother over. I don’t think that would leave a good impression. The way he’s playing over here right now is pretty impressive, so if he gets the chance, he’s going to take it.
Follow Chapin Landvogt on Twitter via @