GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany – What a way to start the 2010 World Championship for the host country. With a loud and boisterous world record crowd of 77, 803 looking on at Veltins Arena, Felix Schütz tipped a shot into the USA net 21 seconds into overtime to give to Germany a 2-1 victory in the opening game of the International Ice Hockey Federation’s annual showcase event on Friday.
“It felt more like a World Cup soccer game than a hockey game,” said Sven Butenschön. “When you hear the roar of 80,000 people, it is a different noise.”
“It was trying to yell to my linemates but they could not hear me,” added USA forward T.J. Oshie.
It was the first time Germany defeated the United States in a World Championship game in 17 years, a 6-3 win at Dortmund in the 1993 tourney.
The game had anything and everything the flag-waving fans who packed the home stadium of the fabled football team Schalke 04 could have asked for.
First of all, Germany tuned in a solid effort in preventing the USA from extending its streak to six straight victories in the opening game of the world championship.
Organizers were hoping to break the old record of 74,554 spectators, set in a 2001 game between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, and they did just that, and more.
The history-making audience also broke the World Championship record attendance of 55,000 spectators, set in the 1957 world tournament in Moscow when the deciding game between the Soviets and Sweden was played in the Lenin Stadium (now: Luzhniki Stadium).
There was even a marriage proposal flashed across the big screen in the first intermission, with the bride-to-be beaming with joy in the stands as she said yes.
The Germans are known as a team that stresses defence over offence but had more scoring chances than their opponents and capitalized on a smart play to open the scoring.
Germany was pressuring the USA when forward Marcel Müller won a race to a loose puck in the corner to the right of goaltender Scott Clemmensen. Müller sent a cross-crease pass to Michael Wolf, who was hovering about one meter off the lip of the crease to Clemmensen’s left, and all Clemmensen could do was watch as Wolf ripped a wrist shot into a wide open net.
German goalie Dennis Endras turned in a solid effort.
“Their goalie was phenomenal,” said defencmen Jack Johnson.
Endras was quick to close his legs and prevent a snap shot by Nick Foligno midway through the first period.
Then early in the second period, Endras kicked out a low shot by T.J. Galiardi, and the crowd chanted “Deutschland, Deutschland.”
“You feed off that,” said German defencman Nicolai Goc.
Endras wasn’t at fault when Ryan Carter jammed a rebound into the net at 8:28 of the third period. Carter banged at a loose puck in the crease and it came to a stop across the goal line after the puck deflected off the goalie’s right pad.
Schütz then sent the fans home with a smile on their face.
“It was an amazing way to end the game. We could have not asked for more,” said Goc.
Playing in front of a record crowd was nothing new for two members of the USA team, Eric Nystrom and David Moss, both played their first collegiate game in the match that determined the previous world record.