The win puts the Americans in Saturday’s semi-finals and sends Germany to the Placement Round, which starts tomorrow among the four losers of today’s quarter-finals.
"I didn't think we came out with our best tonight," offered U.S. forward Amanda Kessel, one of the goalscorers. "We haven't faced Germany for a while. They play hard; they play structured. And their goaltender was unbelievable. It was a good learning game for us to know that you have to bring your best every shift. Sometimes those games are harder when you have the puck a lot because it's easy to play on the outside. There are areas we can improve, and we have to get to the net more."
Indeed, the Americans came into the game with a 6-0 record against Germany all time in WW play and a wild 71-2 goals differential, and they came out skating to back those numbers up, outshooting Germany, 52-18. Only the heroics of German goalie Sandra Abstreiter prevented a blowout. She was named Best Player for her team and received a thunderous ovation from the appreciative crowd.
"I didn't except it," she said of the applause. "Obviously, it's nice to be recognized, but I was overwhelmed at the moment, so I didn't know what to think. I'm happy that we played well. We can take that to our game tomorrow."
Aerin Frankel got the shutout for the U.S. and was named Best Player for her squad as well.
It was an odd first period, to say the least. The U.S. dominated thoroughly, but Abstreiter was perfect to the point that it looked like the Germans would skate off the ice in a scoreless tie without recording a single shot on Frankel. It didn’t quite work out that way, though. The Germans finally got their first shot with less than two minutes to play, and the U.S. scored on a power play in the final minute.
Caroline Harvey’s point shot was kicked out by Abstreiter, but Kessel was there to knock in the rebound with 55.3 seconds remaining. In the end, shots were 20-2 in a lopsided, but close, period.
The second was a repeat of the first as the Americans continued to dangle the puck on a string, but they couldn’t put the proverbial biscuit in the basket. Abstreiter slid left and right, shot out the glove and kicked out a pad to keep the favourites at bay. But then Tabea Botthof cleared the puck over the glass in her own end, and on the ensuing power play the U.S. made it 2-0. Hannah Bilka converted a one-timer under Abstreiter’s glove off a setup from Haley Winn at 12:39.
Laura Kluge had a nice chance to get the Germans on the board early in the third, driving down the left wing, but her hard shot was stopped by Frankel with a nice glove grab. The U.S. eventually made it 3-0 at 7:56 while short-handed. A turnover at the U.S. blue line gave them a 2-on-1, and Abbey Murphy converted the pass from Hayley Scamurra.
In the end, a strong German showing bodes well for the battle for 5th place and a spot in Group A next year, and the Americans prepare to continue their chase for gold on Saturday.
"Definitely I think we were a little bit caught off guard at first. It took us a little bit to get into it, and they had great goaltending and came at us hard," said American defender Caroline Harvey. "I'm sure they had great film before this and were prepared to play against us. They were definitely blocking it up a bit. It was hard to get shots off, and they were just a hard team to play against today. It was a battle to the end. They were a great opponent to play against today."