On the german way to Salt Lake City

By Oliver Janz

Goalies for Salt Lake City

The world championship and the NHL Entry Draft in this year let us say: Germany is back.
Next time to shine: the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in February 2002. The rosters must be named till December, 22nd. The big nations currently named some players, Germany named nobody. And there will be much time go by till german national team coach Hans Zach name the first player. An interesting thing he said regarding the Olympic Games: All players with chances to be named will be watched, including the germans in the north american minor leagues.
Time for “On the german way to Salt Lake City“. The series will cover the positions (Goalies, Defender, Forward), the chances at the olympic games and all informations you need to learn to know the Team Germany. Part One will cover the Goalies who have a chance to go the way to Salt Lake City …

Olaf Kölzig (31, Washington Capitals/NHL)
Kölzig must be the proud of german hockey. Most of the fans like him but don’t love him. What’s the reason? Kölzig was born in south africa, grew up in canada and live currently in the united states. He never played in Germany and the fans didn’t see him as often as the other german goalie legends. Many fans like the goalies Heiss, Merk, de Raaf or Seliger more than him. A (pre-season) game in Germany will help him very much to earn more ‘love’ from the german fans. We will see what happen, Salt Lake City isn’t a german town, but hopefully this will be a good place to play hockey for him. The Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament start in February 2002 and Olie the Goalie will be 31 years old. Seems to be a good age for a goalie, because other world class netminders like Dominik Hasek (36) or Curtis Joseph (34) aren’t even from the younger generation, too. Goalies need the age and the experience to be a big part of the success. Experience? Kölzig has enough of it, the word success is also more than good known. He won the Harry Holmes Trophy and the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the Play-Off MVP in the American Hockey League in the year 1994. But other goalies get dissapointed if they look at his biggest personal success: The Vezina Trophy. He got it after the 1999-2000 season.

George Kingston, former coach of the german national team, gave Kölzig the opportunity to play for Germany at the World Cup 1996. As he play in the NHL he can’t play often for the national team. Sixteen games in five years aren’t much. Last possibility were the world championships in Germany. He said yes, but cancelled this after some days. The official announcement told the fans that the injury, he suffers during the end of the season, still hurts – Kölzig is still injured. Caps’ teammates Ulf Dahlen and Calle Johansson also said yes – and after same days changing this to no. Official announcement was: both players are injured. But swedish journalists found out Kölzig, Dahlen und Johansson were able to play at the world championships, only the management from the Capitals said no, because of the chance for injuries. What happened if Kölzig played for Germany and suffers a new injury which set him out for six months? And what happened if Johansson come back from the championships with an injury? The Capitals’ Officials decided that the risk for losing three important players is to high. This risk is also been given at the olympic games, but don’t allowing Kölzig to play at this tournament isn’t possible. He will be the starting goalie, no question.

Marc Seliger (27, Nürnberg Ice Tigers/DEL)
Seliger was a Draft Pick of the Washington Capitals in 1993. A member of their farmteams Portland Pirates and Hampton Roads Admirals some years later. Since he came back from his spell in north america he grew up to a very good Goalie. Only the injuries are a problem for him. Another injury stopped him in the last season on his way to the world championships. What can stop him on the way to Salt Lake City? Only another injury … or former NHL-Goalie Frederic Chabot, Nürnberg’s new signing. Chabot will play more than fifty per cent of the games, but Seliger will (and must) fight for his place. Rembering the game against the United States in the Relegation Group of the world championships: Seliger is the number one if Kölzig isn’t available.

Robert Müller (21, Adler Mannheim/DEL)
Germany’s Goalie number three, Washington’s Goalie number three. Kölzig, Seliger and Müller were all draftet by the same organization. Müller plays for DEL-champion Mannheim and the other goalie in this team is Mike Rosati, also a former Washington Capital. Back to Müller, he will step into the ring in the next years (2002 or 2003) to play for their farmteam Portland Pirates. Müller is small, but very fast on his skates and quick reflexes makes it hard to beat him. The five-hole, the opening between the goalies legs might be a problem, he suffers to many goals on this way. But his developing is not at the end, he can be much better in the future.
Profile Robert Müller

Christian Künast (30, München Barons/DEL)
The big star after his tremendous goaltending in the world championship opener against the swiss guys. Künast is related to Sharks’ forward Marco Sturm and a veteran of the DEL. His biggest strength was his low goals against average in the last years. There are no highs or downs, Künast played nearly every game on the same level. Künast is ready if you need him, but the future will bring more talented goalies in and Künast out of the national team. Currently Künast’s chances for the Olympic Games are 50-50.

Oliver Jonas (22, Harvardy University/ECAC)
The ECAC Goalie of the Year was out of race for a long time. The last season and his award helped him back into the spotlight. Will play in the north american minor leagues, hopefully to get a spot in the NHL sometime. And national coach Hans Zach told the people every german player in north america will be watched to nominate the best team for Salt Lake City. A job in the AHL will be very good for his chances to be nominated, the ECHL will give him average chances and the other minor leagues won’t help him to jump into the olympic roster. If Jonas doesn’t make the olympic team he will be a candidate for the future of the national team, also for the games in 2006.
Profile/Article Oliver Jonas

Dimitri Pätzold (18, Kölner Haie/DEL)
Yes, the name Pätzold is an important name for the future. For Germany and for the team who picked him at this years NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks. Maybe he’s to young for the Olympic Games and maybe he’s also to young to play in more than ten games in the DEL next season. But if he stars in his first DEL-games in the upcoming season everything can happen. Zach saw no problems to bring young players in, Marcel Goc for example. Profile Dimitri Pätzold

Leonardo Conti (22, Frankfurt Lions/DEL)
His favourite Goalie is Olaf Kölzig, Conti isn’t also not small, but not big as Kölzig is. The style is nearly the same, both netminder are very cool. Also Conti posesses those coolness in situations under pressure. Many shots on his goal mean many saves and no goals. Leonardo Conti has italian ancestors and two brothers who also play pro hockey, Valentino and Davide. Conti is still working on his chance to garner a starting goalie job, with less foreigners it can be true – in some years.

Leonhard Wild (21, Moskitos Essen/DEL)
Called ‘Hardi’, Leonhard Wild is the back up goalie in Essen. Last years number one and former San Jose Shark Geoff Sarjeant ends his career, the new number one will be former Maple Leaf Jimmy Waite. This won’t help the 21 year old german, Sarjeant doesn’t play very good and Waite should be better and will garner more ice time. But Wild is talented and has the ability to reach more time. But the olympic games are to high for him.

Markus Janka (21, Schwenninger Wild Wings/DEL)
Janka is the third young german goalie who was named the best in the minor leagues after Robert Müller and Alexander Jung. Janka played for Geretsried and the junior national teams. But, most of the time as the Back-Up. Robert Müller is also from the 1980’s Goalies and posesses a little bit more talent than Janka. As it’s normally, Janka is a Back-Up in the DEL, too. But the guy in front of him isn’t so much known as the others. Ian Gordon, a 26 year old canadian is the goalie to beat. Janka has the potential to become a starting goalie with the years, but not right now. So, the olympic games are two years too early.

International Games:

1. Marc Seliger 38
2. Robert Müller 22
3. Christian Künast 18
4. Leonardo Conti 18
5. Olaf Kölzig 16
6. Leonhard Wild 3

Note: Markus Janka, Oliver Jonas and Dimitri Pätzold only played for junior national teams.


Olaf Kölzig will be the starting goalie, only an injury can stop him. The Back-Up spots will go to Robert Müller and Marc Seliger. Both showed high class international appearances in the past and are younger than their rival Christian Künast. Only San Jose Sharks Draft Pick Dimitri Pätzold can join the race for spot two and three, we just need an answer how much time he protect the goal from the Kölner Haie in the DEL. Coach Hans Zach build a team for the future, Pätzold is a big part in this puzzle. Mabye Zach called him up for the first team. If that doesn’t work the eyes went to north america. Oliver Jonas, currently 22 years old and the ECAC Goalie of the Year will play for a Minor League Team in North America and there is a chance that Zach will introduce him to some test games. The other Goalies Conti, Wild and Janka are DEL-Back-Up’s and even young, too, but need more competition, more games and more experience to step in.


…Jan Münster?
Münster was the call-up Goalie at last years Deutschland Cup. Due to a new signing (finnish netminder Ari-Pekka Siekkinen) by his club Hannover Scorpions during the last season Münster lost his Back-Up-spot. And his dreams to play for his native country goes by. Münster left Hannover and signed for Berlin Capitals to back up belarussian goalie Andrej Mezin who played in the north american minor leagues in the past. But this move can’t help him so much, he won’t play in more than 15 games in the upcoming season. So, no chance to play for Germany at the Olympic Games.

…Klaus Merk?
Merk shared the starting goalie job in the national team with Joseph Heiss for many years. He’s over 30 and had quit his international career. Will only come back into the squad because of injuries. Klaus Merk will back up the new signing of the Eisbären Berlin, former NJ Devil and Florida Panther Richard Shulmistra. No chance for him to re-join the national team.

…Björn Leonhardt?
Leonhardt is currently 22 years old. One of the better goalies from the ‘goalie problem time’ which includes the birthyears 1975 till 1979 and also from junior program of Rosenheim. Washington Capitals’ Draft picks Marc Seliger and Robert Müller are from Rosenheim, too. His star began to shine in Hannover, while playing for their DEL-Team, the Scorpions. Breakthrough: yes. Big Breakthrough to earn the starting goalie spot: no. Leonhardt, called Leo, left Hannover after two years to play for championship favourite Adler Mannheim. But this move wasn’t good for his developing. He had problems in Mannheim and was assigned to their Farmteam. Time to go. Leonhardt left Mannheim and Germany. After two try out camps he joined the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League. Appeared in twelve games as the back up behind CHL Play-Off MVP Rod Branch. After these twelve games he went back to Germany and signed for Nürnberg for the remainder of the season. They had injury problems on the goalie position, but Leonhardt only played one game. So, new season, next club. And back to the future. He signed for the Hannover Scorpions and will back up canadian goalie Andrew Verner. After Leonhardt’s second DEL-season 1998 he cried for more playing time and want more than 20 games in one season. Now, he must be happy to garner this time in the goal. One more german back up with less ice-time.

…Joseph Heiss?
Germany’s number one in the past. His team, the Kölner Haie signed a new number one with american Chris Rogles and General Manager Lance Nethery told Heiss early that he wouldn’t sign him for the next season. Heiss is the past, Pätzold, the other new Goalie in town, is the future. He retired after the 2000-2001 season.

…Alexander Jung?
‘Jung’ means ‘Young’ in english and Alex Jung is young. He’s 23 years old (…or young) and there’s no question about his future. He will be able to reach a starting goalie spot in the DEL. Was the best Goalie in the fourth league in 1999, the best Goalie in the third league one year later. Jung joined the Eisbären Berlin to jump into the highest league. Playing in twenty games gave him the opportunity to join the national team for two test games. But Jung saw no future for garnering more ice-time in the next DEL-season. Ten, maximum twenty Games doesn’t help him in his most important developing time. Left Berlin and the DEL to play for third league team Erding. Will be the starting goalie, playing in the most games of the season, grabbing experience in important games – Alex Jung can be the undisputed Top Goalie of this league. So, ever do the second step after the first, he will reach the DEL-level in the next years and could be a number one in the highest league in 2003 or 2004. The Olympic Games 2002 are to early, 2006 seems to be the realistic year.

…Kai Fischer?
Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche as their eight choice in 1996 (#160 overall), Kai Fischer was the best netminder in the german junior leagues but never maked the big breakthorugh in the DEL. Now playing for Heilbronn in the second league he share his job with czech goalie Rudolf Pejchar after two seasons in the DEL. Staying in Heilbronn could be the wrong decision, as you see on his spell in Bremerhaven. Fischer was the starting goalie there and played in 42 games which helped him very much to grow up. But since this season (1997-1998) he wasn’t the starter in every team he played for. He need more games and must be the starting goalie in a team. Will probably be a latebloomer.

Outsiders and the future: Christian Rohde (18, Augsburger Panther/DEL), Dimitrij Kotschnew (20, Iserlohn Roosters/DEL), Benjamin Voigt (19, Krefeld Pinguine/DEL), Tim Schnelle (19, Revier-Löwen Oberhausen/DEL), Patrick Koslow (16, Augsburger EV/Fourth League), Martin Morczinietz (17, TuS Geretsried/Third League) and Patrick Ehelechner (16, Mannheimer Jung-Adler/DNL)

© Oliver Janz