Peterka & Kahun react to QF win
by Derek O'Brien|25 MAY 2023
Dominik Kahun (#72) and John Peterka (#33) are key members of Germany's top forward line. 
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andre Ringuette

For the second time in three years, Germany is off to the IIHF World Championship semi-finals following a win over Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

“Just an incredible team effort, I would say,” said John Peterka, the team’s offensive leader with 10 points in eight games, including the game-winning goal against Switzerland. “We played with all our heart in that game. When you look at the last 10 minutes, how guys slid in front of shots and our goalie stopped everything. I just can’t be more proud of the group right now.”

“Just what we’ve done all tournament,” said Dominik Kahun, Peterka’s linemate who set up the game-winner. “On this team, nobody’s better than anybody else. We just play hard and make it hard for other teams. Every player, even if he’s an offensive player, plays solid defence, blocks shots and does everything for the team.”

With the score tied 1-1 in the second period, star defenceman Moritz Seider was kicked out of the game following a check from behind into the boards. Forced to kill off a major penalty and play the rest of the game without one of their best players, things could have gone badly for the Germans.

“We had a good start to the game and then in the second, it slipped a little bit away, especially because we couldn’t score on the power play,” said Peterka. “But then, when we killed off that five minutes, I think that gave our team so much energy and so much power to score those two goals and win the game.”

“The guys did an unbelievable job on the penalty kill,” said Kahun. “We were well prepared for that.”

After killing off the Seider major, Germany’s top line went to work and produced the eventual winning goal with 2:09 remaining in the second period. From the point, Leon Gawanke passed to Kahun along the boards, and that drew just enough attention away from the middle of the rink for Peterka to find an opening.

“It was just an unreal play from Dominik, finding me in the middle,” said Peterka. “We saw in pre-scout that the middle is a little bit open against those guys, and then just dragged the puck a little bit and shot it in the net.”

Shortly afterward, the Germans were back on the PK, but scored a shorthanded goal to go up 3-1, with Wojciech Stachowiak feeding Nico Sturm for a one-timer on a 2-on-1.

“Incredible,” said Peterka. “I think my goal gave the power but then the goal from Nico changed everything around.”

Peterka and Kahun were both on the German team that beat Switzerland in the quarter-finals two years ago. Like this year, the Swiss had won their group while the Germans came in from a fourth-place finish. Did that experience give this year’s German team confidence?

“I don’t know if that gave us so much confidence as much as the Swiss knew it, and that made it harder for them,” Kahun figured. “They knew they were supposed to win today, so the pressure was on them. We just played a solid game.”

At 27, Kahun is now a veteran on this German team, playing in his sixth World Championship. He also has a silver medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics but nothing from the Worlds. That fourth-place finish in 2021 was Peterka’s only previous World Championship. That year he had one goal, but following his rookie season with the Buffalo Sabres, he’s now playing a much larger role on the team.

“I’m just trying to play my best every game,” Peterka shrugged. “I play for the team and trying to win a medal here with the team.

After playing the group stage in Tampere, the Germans had to travel to Riga for the quarter-finals. It was just a short detour, though, as the team goes back to Finland for a couple more games this weekend.

“It’s okay, we just packed a little bit of our stuff from the hotel yesterday,” said Kahun. “We were hoping and we had good confidence that we could win this game today, so we’re just going to pack up again and go back.”

Things won’t get any easier for Germany in the semi-finals, as they now face the other group winner. Ten days ago, the Germans entered the third period of their game against the USA ahead 2-1 but lost 3-2. The Americans have won all eight games they’ve played so far in regulation time.

“We played a hard game against USA,” said Kahun. “They skate a lot so we’ve gotta prepare for it.”