Germany holds on, posts second straight win
by Andy Potts|19 MAY 2023
Germany's Parker Tuomie celebrates with Jonas Muller after scoring his first World Championship goal in a victory over Austria at the 2023 IIHF World Championship in Tampere, Finland.
Germany posted a second successive victory to drive its quarter-final push, with Nico Sturm scoring twice and Parker Tuomie getting his first World Championship goal. Meanwhile, Friday’s 4-2 verdict over Austria means that Roger Bader’s team is mathematically unable to make the playoffs and faces a survival showdown in its remaining games against Finland and Hungary.

Germany's captain, Moritz Muller, paid tribute to Tuomie's line with Wojciech Stachowiak and Justin Schutz, which contributed two of the four goals. What they lack in top-level experience, they make up for in effort and ability.

"The whole of that line played with lots of energy," he said. "They skate well, the battle hard and I think they were our best line today.

"We also had an outstanding goaltender tonight and we capitalised on our chances. Maybe it wasn't our best performance, but it was enough for the win."

Austria's captain, Thomas Raffl, was left frustrated by another game in which his team was competitive but ultimately went unrewarded. "Like most of our games, I thought we had good offensive opportunities but couldn't bury the puck," he said. "We just broke down defensively at times and Germany scored. So that was really the only difference in the game.

"We tried everything. It's just these breakdowns. We've got to limit them to have a chance to win hockey games."

Germany grabbed an early lead thanks to Sturm. The Sharks forward got his first World Championship goal at the end of yesterday’s crazy game against Denmark and followed it up with another in the fifth minute tonight. Alexander Ehl’s pass released Sturm, who got up a head of steam and blitzed past a static Austrian defence before winning his duel with David Kickert.

That wasn't a typical goal from Sturm's repertoire, as team-mate Marcel Noebels jokingly pointed out. "I would not describe him as a skilled player!" joked Noebels. "On today's first goal, I think he said he was surprised himself with what kind of hands he has. So I'm really happy for him. He battles on every shift. He's probably like the hardest-working guy out there. He's an honest player, always on the defensive side of the puck."

However, German hopes of building on that lead were stymied by a too many men call. Austria had enjoyed some results on the power play in this tournament by zipping passes to Thomas Raffl on the crease. Marco Rossi attempted to replay that move, only for Raffl’s shot to squirt off Mathias Niederberger’s arm and bounce wide. Niederberger made another good top moments later to deny Lukas Haudum after Manuel Ganahl’s pass from behind the net picked him out.

Austria was threatening a tying goal, and it arrived after 11 minutes. Rossi went clean through but couldn’t beat Niederberger. However, Germany could not clean up the second phase and Peter Schneider was able to force the puck back towards the blue line where Bernd Wolf stepped up to place a one-timer beyond the German goalie.

Germany regained the lead late in the first when Tuomie potted his first World Championship goal. Jonas Muller brought play into the Austrian zone, Wojciech Stachowiak’s deft drop pass set Tuomie away, but the Straubing Tigers forward still had plenty to do before getting the puck behind Kickert.

The Austrians almost tied it up at the start of the second when Lucas Thaler sped away from Fabio Wagner on the right wing and set up Raffl for a one-timer. Niederberger got a piece of it, but Wagner redeemed himself by reacting sharply to stop the loose puck trickling into the net.

That was close, but Germany responded with the next goal. Justin Schutz did a great job in the centre forward position, distracting the Austrian defence and creating space for Stachowiak to circle through the zone and stuff the puck underneath Kickert.

"We definitely had fun today, I think that was visible on the ice," Stachowiak said. "It’s fun to play with these guys, we’re just three young guys who want to kinda show what we can do and prove ourselves on a big stage. We have the trust of the coach and I think we repaid that in the end. We’re definitely happy now."

Third periods have not always been kind to Germany in this tournament. Against Sweden and Finland, Harold Kreis's team allowed decisive goals in the final third, against the USA it blew a 2-1 lead and even in yesterday's victory over Denmark there was a late, anxious goal rush to endure before the hooter.

Today, though, things were calmer. For much of the final stanza, the Germans played out time effectively and denied Austria the attacking momentum it needed to save the game.

That all changed on 53:25. Allowed access to the perimeter, Austria's Ali Wukovits thumped in a point shot and Haudum applied the redirect to make it a one-goal game. It was only the third shot on the German net in the period, but it set nerves jangling. Relief came in the 59th minute when Sturm potted his second empty net goal in 24 hours to wrap up the win.