Germans secure quarter-final spot
by Andy Potts|23 MAY 2023
Germany's Dominik Kahun fires in a shot at French goalie Sebastian Ylonen during the team's 2023 World Championship game in Tampere, Finland.
Germany secured its place in the quarterfinals for the sixth time in seven tournaments after seeing off France in its last Group A game. A 5-0 victory in Tuesday’s early match-up puts the Germans on 12 points. Fifth-placed Denmark plays Finland tonight, but cannot overhaul the four-point gap to Germany in the fourth and final QF spot.

"I think over 60 minutes, we played a solid game," said Maximillian Kastner, one of the German goalscorers. "We just tried to play the way we want to go into the quarter-finals.

"I think we took a big step today. We are prepared."

France had little to play for in its final group game. Whatever the result, Les Bleus would finish sixth in Tampere, safe from relegation but some distance from troubling the knock-out stage. Philippe Bozon was able to welcome back Alexandre Texier from illness, adding some firepower to an offence that had failed to score for 130 minutes of play before today.

"It was not enough," insisted French forward Anthony Rech. "Not enough at all in our last three games. I don't know what happened. It wasn't because we were already [set] for the next year. We need to think about it.

"It's two World Championships in a row it's happened. So we need to focus on. We have four great games at first, and after we just let it go. It can't happen anymore."

However, it was Germany that was first to show. In the fourth minute, Wojciech Stachowiak brought play into the French zone. He stumbled while sandwiched by two French defenders but recovered his footing and composure to set up Alexander Ehl between the hash marks. The French defence, lured into chasing the puck, failed to cover Ehl and left him unguarded for a simple finish.

The Germans increased the lead on 15:55, although Frederik Tiffels was somewhat sheepish as he accepted the congratulations of his team-mates. J.J. Peterka fired the puck off the boards and it bounced off Tiffels’ skate and slid past Ylonen as the goalie tried to pivot back across his net.

France had failed to score in their two previous games (0-4 vs Sweden, 0-9 vs USA). Once again, the French offence was limited here, but towards the end of the first period Mathias Niederberger finally experienced some anxious moments. First Justin Addamo fired against the outside of the post, then Rech found himself in ample space in front of Niederberger’s net but could not punish a rare German defensive lapse.

In the second period, Germany quickly extended its lead. Peterka came off the wall, skipped between two defenders and lifted a shot over Ylonen’s blocker. That takes the 21-year-old Buffalo Sabres forward to 9 (4+5) in the tournament, keeping him in touch with the scoring leaders at this years Worlds.

"I would say I had a bit of a slow start here, nothing wanted to go in," Peterka said. "But lately I found the back [of the net] a little bit more and found the guys a little bit more. My game got a little more consistent and I'm just happy I can help the team."

His team-mates are also happy. "For his age, [Peterka] is really, really good," said Kastner. "And I think he has a bright future if he keeps the way playing he is right now. He can be one of the best Germans. I'm proud to have him on the team."

Daniel Fischbuch, restored to the German line-up today in place of Manuel Wiederer, celebrated with his first goal of the tournament to make it 4-0 on a power play at the start of the third period. And there was no respite for France, with Loic Farnier ejected from the game for kneeing three minutes later. The German power play was interrupted when Kastner took a holding call but when he returned to the game he potted a fifth to complete the scoring.

After four wins on the spin, Germany approaches the knock-out stage full of confidence. More importantly, though, the national team's consistency in reaching the QF in recent years points to a bright future.

"German hockey is still rising and that's good to see," said Peterka. "It's great to be a part of that movement."