Marcel Goc and Dimitri Pätzold head into the 2003 World Junior Championships in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia with hopes to help Germany avoid relegation while the WJC-ineligible Christian Ehrhoff continues his season as a powerful force with the Krefeld Penguins of the DEL.
After two exhibition games in Nova Scotia, Goc has three assists, but Germany’s steep task was amply demonstrated by a 2-5 loss to Sweden, a country fast losing its status as a hockey power while countries such as Slovakia and Switzerland continue their ascent. (Switzerland crushed Finland 6-1 in a WJC exhibition game!) Goc and crew find themselves in Pool B with Finland, Canada, the Czech Republic, and Sweden. Austria has already won the WJC DI-Group B tournament with major offensive contributions from top prospect Tomas Vanek (eligible for the 2003 NHL Entry Draft) and Nashville Predator prospect Oliver Setzinger. The tournament win earned Austria a birth in the top division for the 2004 World Junior Championships. Goc and Pätzold will have to stand on their heads to keep all three German-speaking hockey countries (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) in the top division.
Goc’s play in the DEL before the German team’s trip to Canada indicates he’s ready to help Germany pull off a major upset and avoid relegation, perhaps at the cost of Sweden. (The only real chance Germany is a total collapse by Sweden; Finland, Canada, and the Czech Republic should all contend for medals.) In Mannheim’s five December games Goc tallied two goals and three assists, giving the Sharks