"I'm very happy, but it was a mandatory win for us," said star German defenceman Moritz Seider. "I think it was clear right from the start. We came out really hard, scored early, and finished it off."
The previous three German wins were all one-goal affairs – 2-1 over Slovakia, 3-2 over France, and 1-0 over Denmark – and this offensive outburst provided another layer of confidence.
Lukas Reichel impressed with a goal and two assists in his 2022 tournament debut, and Kai Wissmann went one better with a goal and three assists. Daniel Fischbusch, Alexander Karachun and Yasin Ehliz each scored twice, and Samuel Soramies added a single.
Marc Michaelis chipped in three assists and now leads Germany in points (2+5=7). Daniel Schmolz and Stefan Loibl each had a pair of helpers.
"Obviously, it's good for the confidence," said Wissmann, who just captured a German title with Eisbaren Berlin. "I came out of the playoffs in Germany and we won. So my confidence was pretty good, and now this helps obviously too."
The Germans outshot Italy 26-20.
German goalie Mathias Niederberger had a respectable performance in his second tournament start after getting the win against France.
For Italy, Alex Petan had a goal and an assist, and Tommaso Traversa, Luca Frigo, and Daniel Mantenuto also had goals.
"We just kind of let the game get away from us," Petan said. "We were on our heels a little bit, and the league got a little bit too far for us. But we gathered together and we just wanted to continue to work real hard for each other, be Italian-proud, and move on."
Speedy NHLer Tim Stutzle, sidelined with a knee strain he got in Monday’s 3-2 win over France, wasn’t the only key German who didn’t play versus Italy. The head coach elected to rest goalie Philipp Grubauer, the Seattle Kraken’s starter, defenceman Korbinian Holzer, who joined Moritz Seider on the 2021 tournament all-star team, and Leonhard Pfoderl, who came into Friday as Germany’s leading scorer (2+3=5).
Of the lineup decisions, Seider said: "I mean, I'm not the coach, so I can't comment on that. But 100 percent, we've got a good lineup either way."
Anothr 2022 debutant on Friday was defender Leon Gawanke (Manitoba Moose). Gawanke made an IIHF name for himself when he scored the last-minute equalizer in Germany’s 3-2 comeback quarter-final win over Switzerland.
The Italians are starving for answers. They came heartbreakingly close to beating neighbouring France in their last outings. Italy was nursing a 1-0 lead with just over a minute left in regulation, but wound up losing 2-1 in overtime. But at least they got a much-needed point, unlike versus Germany.
Deutschland is looking to shore up its quarter-final seeding and improve on last year’s fourth-place finish in Riga. Next up is a Sunday date with pointless Kazakhstan.
Versus Italy, Karanchun got the party started at 5:01, curling into the left faceoff circle and pivoting to squeeze a shot through goalie Davide Fadani, playing his first game of these Worlds. It was a shot that the 21-year-old HC Lugano netminder would like to have had back, and it was a harbinger of things to come.
Just 1:16 later, Wissmann made it 2-0, cutting down low past hapless Italian defenders and putting a backhander through Fadani’s legs.
"I think we did a good job of using our chances at the beginning," Wissmann said. "So we kind of took the speed out of Italy's game a little bit. That was good for us. We capitalized and had good speed attacking the net."
The Germans kept working, and it simply wasn’t Fadani’s day. Dominik Bittner’s floater from the side boards was tipped by Ehliz for a 3-0 lead at 13:14, and Italian coach Gregory Ireland had seen enough. Fadani was yanked in favour of netminder Justin Fazio.
Fischbusch put the game out of reach at 17:58, accepting a cross-ice pass from Wissmann and cuing up a short-side wrister from the left faceoff circle that beat Fazio cleanly. Reichel got the second assist for his first point of these Worlds.
In the second period, Germany extended its lead to 5-0 at 5:01 on its second power play. Reichel was perfectly placed in front to tip in Marcel Noebels' hard slap-pass. Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks prospect potted six points in nine games in Riga.
Italy got a little satisfaction 36 seconds later when Traversa spoiled Niederberger's shutout bid, deflecting Enrico Miglioranzi's shot home with traffic in front. However, it was strictly a moral victory
At 14:55, Fischbusch got Germany's sixth goal. He was Johnny-on-the-spot to convert Reichel's slick centering pass from behind the net.
In the third period, the German offensive barrage didn't let up. Ehliz scored on a one-timer from the right faceoff circle at 1:24 and Karachun made it 8-1 on a 2-on-1 rush at 2:45. That prompted Ireland to call his timeout and address his beleaguered troops at the bench.
Frigo cut the deficit to 8-2 with a nice breakaway goal set up by Petan. Frigo went to the backhand to loft one past Niederberger at 7:26. Mantenuto then added Italy's third goal on the power play at 9:50.
"We have guys at their first World Championships, you know, popping their first goals," Petan said. "As much as it sucks losing, little rewards like that give that individual confidence, but they give the team a bit of confidence too, because we're all happy for them to do it."
Marco Sanna thought he'd added a fourth marker for the Azzurri, but Soderholm challenged the play as offside, and the goal was called back.
In a bit of tit for tat, Ireland challenged the Soramies goal that made it 9-3 at 17:04 for goalie interference. However, the referees weren't buying it and Italy was assessed a delay of game penalty. It was the first goal for the 23-year-old Soramies at his first Worlds.
Petan added the fourth goal for Italy with 19 seconds left to round out the scoring.
The Italians have a tough road ahead. They take on Slovakia, the 2022 Olympic bronze medalists, on Saturday.
Looking ahead to facing Kazakhstan, Wissmann said he had seen the former Soviet republic's 6-3 loss to Canada on Thursday on TV at his hotel. He added: "We expect a tight game, hard game. We want to do the same as today. Like, in the first period, we want to use our chances and get the lead. I think we have a good chance to win the game."
The last time Germany lost to Italy at an IIHF World Championship was 3-1 on 4 May 2001 in Hanover. This was Germany’s fourth consecutive Worlds victory over Italy.