Regardless of how the playoff round of the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship turns out for Germany, the fact they have extended themselves beyond the preliminary round and, most importantly, avoided the relegation round, has to be viewed as some measure of success for this developing hockey country.
Of course, it is out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Germans as they face the undefeated host team for this tournament, Russia. Germany did defeat Russia at last year's U18, but this year the Russians appear to be on a bit of a roll heading into the playoff round.
One German player who played in last year's win over Russia is defenseman Tim Bender. Bender turned in a solid performance at last year's U18, and is doing so this year in his final U18 appearance. In four games, the Mannheim native has scored a goal and added one assist to go along with a +1 rating.
Bender is eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, but is currently ranked 108th among European skaters – not exactly an ideal position to be in if you are hoping to have your name called by an NHL club.
Bender spoke with Hockey's Future following the completion of the preliminary round.
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