Germans jump into second in Group
by Chris Jurewicz|18 MAY 2024
If Poland ends up being relegated following the IIHF World Championship, it can look no further than its powerplay as a big reason why.

Once again, Poland stuck with a team at the Worlds but, yet again, the Poles lost a hockey game due in large part to its ineffective powerplay. Poland went 0-for-2 with the man advantage – bringing its tournament total to 0-for-18 – as it lost its second-last preliminary round game 4-2 to Germany on Saturday. Powerplays can either give a team momentum or take it away and, for Poland, it has certainly been the latter.

Germany played a strong game from start to finish but – similar to the United States on Friday – faced a strong Polish goaltender. The Germans won the shot clock tally 35-21 but watched Polish goaltender David Zabolotny make a number of saves on Grade A chances to keep it close.

"We knew Poland was going to come out hard, but it was big for us," said German defender Colin Ugbekile. "I'm happy with how we played. We did a great job keeping it simple, getting pucks in deep, trying not to force things. A big three points for us."

Despite a late rally by Poland in the third, Germany played a strong game and were rewarded with three points to sit in second place in Group B with 12 points, three behind Sweden. Poland continues to occupy last place in the group with one point.

"Today was a pretty tough game," said Germany's Alexander Ehl. "Poland didn’t make it easy for us. They’re a very competitive team. We played our game for 60 minutes and we deserved the three points."

Germany opened the scoring five minutes into the second when Alexander Ehl took a drop pass from Maximilian Kastner and snapped blocker side past Zabolotny. The puck appeared to deflect off a Polish defender to beat the well-positioned Zabolotny.

With 4:43 left in the second period, John Peterka was awarded a penalty shot when Krystian Dziubinski of Poland threw his stick to break up a German 2-on-0. Peterka made no mistake on the ensuing penalty shot, beating Zabolotny through the five-hole to make it 2-0.

Yasin Ehliz beat Zabolotny on the short side 4:28 into the third to make it 3-0, giving Ehliz his eighth point of the tournament.

Poland made it 3-1 at 13:13 when Patryk Wajda shot from behind the goal line and banked the puck in off German goaltender Mathias Niederberger’s back. Two minutes later, Filip Komorski flipped in a rebound past Niederberg to make it 3-2, sending the Polish fans into a frenzy in Ostrava.

Germany put the nail in the coffin at 16:11 when Peterka scored his second of the game and fifth of the tournament to make it 4-2. Zabolotny stopped Lukas Reichel on a breakaway but couldn’t stop Peterka who pounced on the rebound.

Poland will now become Team USA cheerleaders and hope the United States defeats Kazakhstan on Sunday. Should that happen, Poland’s game against Kazakhstan on Monday could determine which of the two teams is relegated. Kazakhstan currently sits two points ahead of Poland.

"A couple of years ago, I didn’t know if we could play here," said Wajda, who has spent 15 years on the Polish national team. "But this was our dream and the dream has come true and we want to stay here."

Said Polish defender Kacper Macias: "Nobody thought before the tournament that we could play like this against the best teams. So we are a better team today than two weeks ago."

Germany, which won silver at the 2023 Worlds, will conclude its preliminary round on Tuesday against France.