Soderholm follows after Sturm
by Martin Merk|20 DEC 2018
Toni Soderholm was behind the bench of the German U20 national team as an assistant coach for two years.
photo: Benedikt Siegert
After the sudden departure of Marco Sturm, who became an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings last month, the German Ice Hockey Association has named Toni Soderholm as new head coach of the men’s national team.

Soderholm has most recently been coaching SC Riessersee, the farm team of German champion Red Bull Munich from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and was an assistant coach of the German U20 national team for two years earning promotion to the top-level World Juniors last weekend.

“I’m very happy that with Toni Soderstrom we are able to present a young and recognized coach as successor for Marco Sturm who has been working in the national team system for two years,” said DEB President Franz Reindl.

 “I’m looking forward to the co-operation with the DEB and am thankful to EHC Red Bull Munich that they released me for this job,” Soderstrom said. “It’s a big honour and challenge to work as head coach of the German national team.”

The 40-year-old Finn spent most of his career as a player with IFK Helsinki but had several stints abroad. Before turning pro at IFK he spent several years in college hockey in North America. And after three years on the senior team in Helsinki he went abroad to play two years in Switzerland for SC Bern and two in Sweden with Frolunda Gothenburg before returning to Helsinki for six more years. In 2011 he won the Finnish championship and the Jari Kurri Award for the playoff MVP.

When he was 37 years old he had his last adventure abroad. He left IFK as team captain to join Red Bull Munich for the 2015/2016 season. He was still a point-producing defenceman and helped the team win the DEL. Then he retired and opened a new chapter by staying within the organization as a development coach, meanwhile in his third year.

While coaching the German national team will be his first international experience as a coach in senior hockey, he’s familiar with world-class hockey from the past. For the Finnish national team he played 62 international games including three IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. He was on the Finnish team that won silver in Moscow 2007.

Soderholm takes over a team that finished the year 2018 on a high. Thanks to the historic silver-medal win at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games – Germany eliminated Canada in the semi-finals and lost the final to the Olympic Athletes from Russia only in overtime – the national team won the award as German Team of the Year as the first ice hockey team ever at a ceremony on Sunday.

Germany will play Canada, the United States, Finland, Slovakia, Denmark, France and Great Britain at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

At the same time the German Ice Hockey Association announced that former player Tobias Abstreiter will coach the U20 national team as of the upcoming season. He has been working as an assistant coach for the men’s national team for three years and succeeds Christian Kunast, who led the team to the top-level IIHF World Junior Championship for next winter.

It was already announced earlier that Kunast will leave the U20 national team to take over the women’s national team as of 1st January 2019.