COLOGNE – Felix Schütz is proving to be Germany’s go-to guy at the IIHF World Championship. His name doesn’t mean "shooter" for nothing.
Schütz assisted on Germany’s first goal and then scored his second winning goal of the tournament in the second period in a 3-1 triumph over Denmark as Germany clinched a berth in the qualification round in the 16-team competition.
Schütz held off an opponent as he worked his way into the slot and his wrist shot surprised goalie Patrick Galbraith, who was partially screened. The shot by the German forward sailed waist-high into the left side of the net at 13:28 of the second period to snap a 1-1 tie. Schütz scored the winning goal in a 2-1 overtime victory over the United States before a record-setting audience of 77,803 last Friday.
"I changed my stick and got a new curve and it worked," said Schütz about having a hot hand for the Germans."I protected the puck and just threw the puck on the net and got lucky, I guess."
"But we did the little things as a team that lets you win games and that was important."
The loud and boisterous crowd was still buzzing from the goal by Schütz when they were on their feet again clapping, waving flags and singing thanks to a goal by Nicolai Goc at 15:09 of the second. He stepped into a slap shot from the point that Galbraith got a piece of. The puck rolled behind the goalie and crossed the goal line just before a diving Danish defenceman, Mads Bødker, swept it out of the net. The play went to video review and the Germans soon had a 3-1 lead.
Marcel Goc also scored for Germany, while Philip Larson had Denmark’s lone goal.
The Germans came into the game knowing they needed to win in regulation if they wanted to advance to the next round of the competition without any help from the other competitors in Group D, and they outplayed Denmark, which had already clinched a spot in the next round, from the opening faceoff.
"It would have been awful sitting in the stands (for the late game between Finland and the United States), biting your nails because you are nervous," said Germany's Kai Hospelt."This is awesome, a great feeling. It is very special to have this happen in our country."
Added Sven Butenschön: "It's a relief. Two months ago, we looked at the schedule and said that this is the game we have to win. We've been focusing on it, and the USA game put us on the right path. We persevered, battled, and did everything it took to win. It's awesome,"
With the team representing the host country playing in a crucial match, the atmosphere at Lanxess Arena was electric. Fans were singing and cheering on the Germans during the pre-game warm-up and they continued their unwavering support throughout the match.
The Germans were aggressive early on and paid the price. They played either one man or two-men short for four minutes and nine seconds of the first seven minutes of play and the Danes capitalized on their first of straight two-man advantages to open the scoring.
The play started with Peter Regin firing a point shot that was going wide of the German net. Larsen made a smart play to get stop the puck with his left skate and he kicked it onto his stick and followed with a low shot that beat goaltender Dennis Endras cleanly at the 3:40 mark of the opening period.
It didn’t take Germany long to tie the game.
After Danish defenceman Jesper Damgaard was sent off for tripping at 8:09. Schultz rifled a slap shot from the point that was deflected downward by Marcel Goc and the puck skipped past Galbraith to make it 1-1 at 8:40.
The smaller Danes had difficulty containing the bigger Germans, especially in the area around the Danish net, the whole game.
The Germans also did a great job protecting their net and often had four players down low in an attempt to keep the Danes off the scoreboard.
"We played an OK first period, but they were better in the and score the goals they needed," said Denmark's Morten Green. "They played great defence and have a good goalie, so it was hard for us to come back into the game,"
Danish captain Jesper Damgaard agreed.
"It was a tough game, they had to win, they had to give their best in front of their home crowd. They worked us down, we got tired, and they scored. They deserve all the credit."
Attendance was 18,623, the second-biggest number number in a hockey arena since the IIHF World Championship single-game attendance record in a hockey arena was broken on Monday in Germany's game against Finland (18,654). The previous mark was 18,359 set at the same arena in 2001 at a game between the Czech Republic and Germany.