Germany look to stay in Group A in WJC

By Chapin Landvogt





After Team Germany’s 2003 WJC B-Team entry managed to win their way back<br />into the A group of World Junior Championship play, the motto for this year’s<br />WJC is to simply do everything in their power to retain that spot in the A<br />Group


 

After
Team Germany’s 2003 WJC B-Team entry managed to win their way back into the A
group of World Junior Championship play, the motto for this year’s WJC is to
simply do everything in their power to retain that spot in the A Group.  This will obviously be a difficult task,
and the German U-20 entry is the odds on favorite to be relegated once
again.  However, the young German
team coached by Ernst Hofner believes it can
handle this task and surprise a few of the teams in close competition, namely
Belarus and Switzerland. 

 

One of
the advantages this defensively minded team has is that many of its youngsters
are currently active for successful teams in Germany’s top league, which
features a great many former NHL and AHL players.  This regular play against experienced
men as well as the tutoring they receive from such players on their various
teams has these youngsters believing they’re up to the task at hand.

 

It won’t
be easy and the Germans will need goalie Thomas Greiss
to prove he was deservedly drafted by San Jose in the third round of the 2004
draft.  A big performance from him
should go a long way in keeping Germany in the A group.  Although he is one of only two Germans
in this tournament who have been drafted thus far, he hasn’t received a great
deal of ice time this season having played second fiddle to Cologne’s starter
Chris Rogles. 

 

The other
NHL draftee, forward Kai Hospelt (again by San
Jose) is coming off a torn ACL, which was first operated upon in August.  It isn’t yet certain what role he will
play in this tournament, if any whatsoever, after not having seen any ice time
since the operation. 

 

Fortunately
for Germany, there are several other players who have been on NHL scouts’
radar screens in the past or during this season.  Last summer, backup
goalie Youri Ziffzer
and forward Marcus Kink were among Germany’s top 3 draft possibilities.
  Kink in particular will be counted on to
make the biggest offensive contribution for this team having gathered 11 points
in 5 games in last seasons B U-20, although he is currently mired in a
defensive role as a fourth line center for his club team Mannheim.  However, teammate Fabio Carciola is having a wonderful season and is being
looked at as the team’s secret offensive weapon, if indeed Germany should have
one. 

 

The
team’s youngest player is Felix Schutz and
many think he has a bright future internationally, despite his current 5’10,
175 lbs frame.  Other forwards of
note are Sachar Blank, André Rankel, and Florian
Busch
.  On defense, the team’s most notable are the Berlin Polar Bears’ pair Jens
Baxmann
and Tobias Draxinger.  Germany is also high on youngster Moritz
Muller
.  In whole, the defensive
corps is relatively unknown and may very well be out of its league in this
tournament. 

 

Germany’s
philosophy in this tournament will be a defensive one.  It’s well known that teams lacking in
offensive punch must often put defensive systems into use, which could lead to
a few boring yet effective games on behalf of the Germans.  Having former NHL defenseman Uwe Krupp as an
assistant coach in the cards certainly lends credence to this prediction.  The players themselves are all currently
playing in leagues against chiseled veterans and will be anything other than
lacking in toughness.  In addition,
the team possesses a strong skating game which should keep them in most games.
Look for Germany to pressure opponents into trying to develop things
offensively while the Germans will be in a system-destruction mode.   A clutch and grab,
grind-out-the-opponent mentality will be the key to any positive results
Germany pulls out of this WJC.  Germany
will face quality of the opponents in their group, which includes traditional
hockey powers Finland, Canada, Sweden and Slovakia.

 

In any
case, keep an eye on Team Germany who managed to tie the Czech Republic 3-3 in
preliminary play.  Several of the
players in this line-up could very well be making a move up the scout’s charts
after this tournament.

 

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