Germany getting ready to play
by Liz Montroy|16 JUL 2021
Julia Zorn (center) looks to lead Germany to a successful season in Calgary and beyond. 
photo: Francois Laplante / HHOF-IIHF Images
Twenty-eight of Germany’s top hockey players convened in Füssen at the end of June with the goal of earning a spot on Germany’s roster for the 2021 Women’s World Championships. As team captain Julia Zorn can attest to, this training camp was another step towards finally being able to take care of unfinished business from 2020.

Prior to the Women’s World Championships being postponed last spring due to COVID-19, Zorn and the ESC Planegg Penguins were just one win away from claiming a historic eighth Deutsche Fraueneishockey-Liga (DFEL) title when the league cancelled the remainder of the playoffs.

However, Zorn and the Penguins can now say that they are eight-time champions. The DFEL was allowed to play out the 2020-21 season, and Planegg claimed the championship title in a 4-1 win over Eisbären Juniors Berlin this past March. 

“Even though it was the eighth championship we won as a club, each championship you win is always a different team,” said Zorn, who has played with Planegg since 2007-08. This past season the roster had 14 players on it who weren’t on the team in 2020 when the club had to sit out its final games. “It always depends on the team, and that’s what makes it so special.” 

Now Zorn is ready to tackle the second competition that she didn’t get to see through to completion last year—the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship.

“The last year has been kind of a roller coaster ride,” said Zorn. “I’ve had some injuries [during my career], and I think having had those in the past helped me throughout this COVID stuff, because I had to learn how to be patient and live day to day and not take anything for granted.”
National team head coach Thomas Schädler is looking to select his roster for the Women's Worlds from the group of 15 forwards, 10 defenders and three goalies who took part in June’s training camp. 

Hoping to make her senior national team debut as one of the youngest players on the roster is defender Fine Raschke. At the 2020 Division I Group A Women’s U18 World Championships, Raschke captained her team to a gold medal, earning promotion to the Top Division. She was named Germany’s Best Player as well.

“For me the last year was very different,” said 18-year old Raschke, who was unable to train with her usual team, EHC Wolfsburg, due to COVID regulations. Instead she took to the ice with the DFEL’s Mad Dogs Mannheim. “I think I got stronger because of this and I am more self-confident.”

“I want to be part of the national team, I want to help them,” Raschke said of her ambitions now that she has aged out of the U18 program. “There are some [big] steps maybe—the Olympics—but I do little steps. My goal is to always do my best.”

For Raschke, getting the opportunity to play with experienced leaders such as Zorn is priceless. Zorn is humble and team-focused; while she wears the “C”, she sees the team’s leadership as being shared amongst a group of players that have moved through the national team program together. 
 Fine Raschke (on right) at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship.
photo: Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images
“I would say it’s more a group of leaders. But I’m super honoured to be captain of the team,” said Zorn. “I don’t think you have to act different [as team captain]. Just be yourself and try your best every day and try to lead the team on and off the ice.” 

This group mentality is something Raschke has picked up on during national team training camps. 

“The team is so nice, all the girls are so helpful,” said Raschke. “Even if I’m new to the team, I don’t need to be afraid, I just play my game … The team helped me to be part of it and to feel comfortable.”

Germany will officially announce its roster in the coming weeks. The team will face Japan, Czech Republic, Denmark and Hungary in Group B round robin action at the World Championship, which starts on August 20 in Calgary, Canada.

Olympic qualification is also on the horizon, with Germany hosting Denmark and Austria this November as each team vies for a spot at the 2022 Games in Beijing. 

“[Olympic qualification] is a big step this year we want to take, and so we want to use [Worlds] as well for kind of a preparation for November,” said Zorn. “But still the Worlds itself is such a big thing. We want to make sure we reach the quarter-finals and play the best hockey as possible.”