Blank leads Germany past Austria
by Lucas Aykroyd|10 AUG 2022
Alexander Blank (#24) scored three second-period goals to propel Germany to a 4-2 Group B win over Austria.
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images
In Wednesday's late game at Rogers Place, Germany secured its first three points of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship with a resilient 4-2 win over neighbouring rival Austria.

Alexander Blank drove the bus with a natural hat trick in the second period and added an assist for Germany. Blank, 20, is the son of three-time IIHF World Championship participant Boris Blank (2002-04). Meanwhile, Josef Eham tallied a goal and an assist, and Justin Volek had two helpers.

With captain Luca Munzenberger returning to the lineup after missing the opening 5-1 loss to the U.S., it was a nice bounceback all around for Deutschland.

"Actually, I felt a little bit tired this morning after our game against the States but sometimes a game like this just happens," Blank said of his scoring feats. "Some days, the game is just in your blood and everything goes well and you score the goals."

Senna Peeters replied with a goal and an assist for the Austrians, who led 1-0 and 2-1 but were unable to hold on. Ian Scherzer chipped in a pair of assists.

"We came out playing hard," said Peeters. "We had a really good start, but we need to work on a couple of things. Everyone tried their best, but it just wasn’t enough. I think some guys were nervous at the start. It’s a big stage to play on, but we know we can play at this level. Obviously, Germany was one of the teams we had the best chance to win against, but that didn’t happen."

In goal, Florian Bugl got the start from German coach Tobias Abstreiter, while Austrian coach Philipp Pinter gave the nod to Sebastian Wraneschitz. Final shots favoured Germany 44-17.
Germany vs Austria - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship
GER AUT 10 AUG 2022
These two countries are both German-speaking, but their IIHF achievements don't have much in common.

Germany, whose men won an Olympic silver medal in 2018 and came fourth at the 2021 Worlds, also earned a sixth-place finish at the 2021 World Juniors, just off its 1981 peak (fifth place).

Austria, which also peaked in 1981 (eighth place), finished tenth and last in 2021, but as at this year’s tournament, there was no relegation.

Here, Peeters drew first blood at 2:45 on Austria’s first power play and first shot of the game. The 20-year-old HC Innsbruck attacker stickhandled confidently into the right faceoff circle and zapped a wrister from the dot that beat Bugl high to the stick side.

The Austrian goal celebration was jacked up, befitting a team that historically has struggled to score in top-level U20 competition. Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" echoed through the rink.

It took Germany eight shots to tie it up at the eight-minute mark. Blank found Eham on the doorstep with a nice cross-ice dish, and all the Berlin-born forward had to do was tap it into the open side.

The well-drilled Germans didn’t slacken their pace. They outshot Austria 14-4 in the opening stanza.

Austria went up 2-1 at 1:40 of the second period, thanks largely to Peeters' relentlessness on the puck. On the forecheck, he centred it from the corner and it bounced off a German defender's skate to Dobnig, who pivoted to fire it through Bugl from the left faceoff circle.

Positioned in the slot, Blank struck back less than two minutes later to make it 2-2. His outstretched stick deftly tipped home the equalizer off Adrian Klein's point shot.

"We talked about sticking to our game plan: just fight for every puck, play a simple game and not do anything too fancy," Blank said.

Nearing the six-minute mark of the second period, Peeters got a penalty shot after he was obstructed by backchecking Austrian forward Oskar Maier on what would have been a clear path to the net. However, on the penalty shot, Peeters failed to solve Bugl on the glove side. The German bench erupted with cheers.

"I know he’s a really good goalie, especially if I wanted to shoot," Peeters said. "I tried to make a move to open him for a second, but I couldn’t lift the puck as high as I wanted to. It was a good save."

Germany finally took its first lead at 8:59, and Blank did the damage, circling to tee up a shot that whizzed over Wraneschitz's glove.

At 11:03, Volek exploited an Austrian defensive-zone turnover, jumping behind Luca Auer and Tobias Sabblatnig to coolly backhand the puck to Blank on the doorstep. His third goal made it 4-2 Germany.

Now the Austrians had to, metaphorically speaking, climb a mountain taller than the 3,798-metre Grossglockner, their nation's highest peak. They killed off Auer's subsequent four-minute high-sticking penalty, but that also ate up precious potential comeback time.

The third period saw a cluster of penalties, including Auer's ejection for a kneeing major. After Austria failed to capitalize on back-to-back man advantages, a tripping minor to Peeters helped Germany run out the clock with their two-goal lead intact.

With a minute to go, "Big City Nights" by the Scorpions blasted from the P.A., cementing the party mood among the Germans.

"I’m just happy to be here," Peeters said. "I was here during Christmas when it was cancelled, so I’m just happy to be playing hockey and representing my country. It’s always a great honour."

The only previous World Junior meeting between these nations was more than 30 years ago. West Germany, hosting the World Juniors, trounced Austria 9-1 on New Year's Eve 1980.

Next up in Edmonton, Austria battles Sweden on Friday, while Germany takes on another neighbouring rival in Switzerland on Saturday.

"Our first goal is to make the quarter-finals, and now that we have our first three points, we feel better," Blank said. "We want to win against the Swiss, and maybe we can do something special against Sweden as well. We’ll see."
Germany vs Austria - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship