INGOLSTADT – It was the unsung heroes that stood up when Germany needed a boost to make it to the gold medal game of the 2012 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship.
Goalkeeper Jochen Vollmer was one of them. He saved 34 out of 36 shots in his best game of the tournament.
Felix Schütz was another.
His name derives from the German word “Schütze” according to popular belief. It usually means shooter in general, or Sagittarius for those who are into astrology. In sports it can also mean goal scorer. And that’s exactly what Schütz did the day before the gold medal game…score goals.
Originally in the third line, he was promoted to play more shifts in the last period and perfectly gelled with second-line forward Patrick Buzas, who fed him with two nice passes as Schütz scored both the game-tying and game-winning goal in the 3-2 semi-final victory over Finland.
“I’ve known him for many years. We’ve played together ice hockey in Ingolstadt. He made two nice assists that made it easy for me to score,” Schütz said.
“I heard we had never made it to the final before. It’s great. We gel well together, we have fun and now we want to win again,” he added.
It’s a perfect tournament for the 24-year-old, who represented his country in four IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships, most recently last month in Stockholm. In 2010, when Germany sensationally reached fourth place on home ice, he was selected as one of the best three players of the team by head coach Uwe Krupp.
Until this year, he hadn’t played inline hockey at the international stage before.
Schütz was born not far away from Ingolstadt in Erding and developed in several German clubs before trying his skills in North America, where he played two years in the QMJHL (Saint John, Val-d’Or) before signing with the Buffalo Sabres. In the Sabres organization he played two years for the AHL’s Portland Pirates before going back to Europe.
He returned to Germany where he played for Ingolstadt before transferring to Cologne in October.
In his native region of Bavaria not only ice hockey is popular, but many players also enjoy switching skates for rollerblades in the summer months.
“Inline hockey is fun and I also play in the league. We founded a team in Erding where I come from and I’ve been playing there for two years,” Schütz said. “It’s fun, it’s similar to ice hockey and we have a great atmosphere in our team.”
“I’m living not far away from Ingolstadt and was asked if I wanted to join,” Schütz said. And he immediately accepted the invitation.
Today at 19:00 at the Saturn Arena, which is expected to be sold out, the Germans will face Canada in their first-ever gold medal game. This game as well as three others today will be streamed live and for free on IIHF.com.
“They’re big. You can’t play too much of a body-contact game compared to the ice hockey rules, but they play hard. They’re not in the final for nothing. We have to be ready,” Schütz said.
In the preliminary round Canada won the clash between the two teams thanks to Dave Hammond’s game-winning goal 13 seconds before the end of regulation time.
“In the final it will be a totally different game that can’t be compared to the preliminary round,” Schütz said. “Everybody will be at a maximum emotional level and then it will be small details that can decide. Hopefully luck will be on our side.”