MUNICH, Germany – It was obvious on Sunday afternoon. Germany can no longer be considered a top team in international ice hockey any longer (if they ever were for that matter). Now, Germany has not qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time since 1954.
The German national team season started well enough.
With Pat Cortina, the DEB (German Ice Hockey Federation) found a replacement for Jakob Koelliker (disliked in many circles of German hockey). Cortina is coach of the EHC Red Bull Munich at the moment, what causes the first of many irritations. When it was reported that Cortina received a 3-year contract and will be General Manager and Head Coach after the first year, there were expressions of derision among critics.
But these same critics were forced to hold their comments after the surprising win of the German Cup against purportedly better teams of Swiss, Slovakia and Canada. When also the perspective-team-Sotchi played against the U24-team of Russia and had good results, everyone was in a positive mood for the Olympic-qualifying tournament.
But why was Germany required to compete in the qualifying tournament?
At the World Cup 2012, Germany got eliminated after the first round (including a 4-12 loss against Norway). For most of the fans and officials, Jakob Koelliker was the man to blame for it.
The wrong game plan which was not understood by the players was the main problem. But also these officials were full of honor and praising when Germany got second at the German Cup 2011. But this was not enough and so he was replaced by Pat Cortina.
But Cortina was a surprise appointment of the DEB. Hans Zach, of the Alpes Volcano was thought to be the inside favorite. But he had expressed that he had no interest in being Manager and Coach. With the German Cup 2012, and the test games against Russia and Austria though, Cortina had a good start.
But then he had to lie in the bed others had made for him. Germany had to win the tournament at Bietigheim-Bissingen against the Netherlands, Italy and Austria.
First, there was a 5-1 win against the Netherlands. It was a high-scoring victory, but not very impressive. The result was not indicative of the match. The result had to be much higher, but best chances were missed.
The second game against Italy was moving in the right direction. There were just a few chances, but these also were missed, except for one. But also the Squadra Azurra was scoring one, so the match was going to overtime. There, the Italians scored in the first attack netting the game winning goal.
Austria won their game against the Netherlands and so Germany had to win after 60 minutes in the last match. The game was like the first two games, Germany had more chances, but Austria was defending well and was taking their chances. With the final horn, the result was 2-2 and the ice was full of cheering Austrian players.
But every ice hockey game needs a winner, so both teams had to motivate themselves again. It was kind of a surreal picture. The DEB-squad wanted to leave the ice and the ÖEB-squad wanted to party. Because of this, the overtime ended quickly; a shot from Patrick Reimer hit the net. That the German national hymn was played after this game winning goal was the cherry on the cake.
The debacle was complete, the Olympic games 2014 at Sotchi are to be played without Germany.