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2ND LEAD Germany stun Canada to reach first Olympic ice hockey final By Barry Whelan, dpa

Europe, Europa
23.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Pyeongchang, South Korea (dpa) - Germany shocked Canada 4-3 on Friday to reach their first-ever men‘s Olympic ice hockey final and meet the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) on Sunday in the gold-medal game.

A first-period goal from Canadian-born Brooks Macek sent Germany on their way and three second-period strikes ensured passage into the final. Canada, missing their array of NHL stars, rallied but fell just short of completing a sensational comeback.

And midway through the game their frustration threatened to boil over when Gilbert Brule got a game misconduct for a brutal check to the head of David Wolf.

Germany are now guaranteed at least silver, their best-ever Olympic result and first medal since West Germany took bronze in 1976. It was no wonder they were beside themselves.

"It‘s a crazy world. The team performed unbelievably," Germany coach Marco Sturm said. "We‘ve never been in a situation where we‘ve been under positive pressure. We had to stay cool. It‘s unique, the boys should enjoy it."

Despite being underdogs in the final, defenceman Moritz Mueller believes the German team can pull off another shock.

"Why shouldn‘t we become Olympic champions?" he said. "We‘re playing in the final, let‘s become Olympic champions!"

The team‘s efforts were lauded on social media by some of Germany‘s biggest sports stars.

"Final! My best wishes to the German national ice-hockey team," Bayern Munich footballer Thomas Mueller wrote on Twitter. "Just one more step for gold! You can do it!"

"We‘re all totally fascinated by the ice-hockey team and were celebrating with you!" tennis legend Boris Becker tweeted. "Now you‘re in the final against OAR! Crazy, who would have thought it before the tournament... Come on, men!"

Earlier the OAR team struck twice in the space of 30 second-period seconds as they downed the Czech Republic 3-0. The Czechs will meet Canada, winners of three of the last four gold medals, for bronze on Saturday.

An even match tilted Germany‘s way with a five-on-three power play - caused by Canada‘s delay of game at a face-off - which brought Macek‘s opener.

In the second, Matthias Plachta converted Patrick Hager‘s cross-ice assist and Frank Mauer made it three, with a sensational between-the-legs finish, following a turnover.

Canada fought back through Brule‘s rocket on the power play but a deflection from Patrick Hager, also with a man-advantage, kept Germany three up.

Brule was then dismissed for his check on Wolf, who was assisted from the ice before returning for the third period. But Germany failed to put the game beyond doubt during the five-minute major penalty.

Mat Robinson finished neatly early in the third and keeper Kevin Poulin checked Dominik Kahun‘s penalty shot as Canada built momentum.

Derek Roy scrambed a power-play goal to get Canada within one and another power play, with nine minutes remaining, gave them the chance to level, which wasn‘t taken.

Germany vanished as an attacking force, doing little other than repeatedly clearing their zone, prompting Canada to first pull Poulin with more than two minutes remaining for an extra skater.

Canada pushed in a frantic finale but German keeper Danny aus den Birken saved what was thrown at him to secure a famous victory.

After a scoreless first period, Nikita Gusev broke the deadlock for the OAR midway through the second and Vladislav Gavrikov added another on a swift counter-attack just 27 seconds later. Ilya Kovalchuk settled the tie with an empty-net goal 20 seconds from time.

Russia are therefore guaranteed a first medal since 2002 and are chasing a first gold since they won the 1992 Games as the Unified Team following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

"It feels good. I think we deserve to be in that situation. We played well, our goaltender was good, our PK (penalty kill) was good and we need to improve our power play," Kovalchuk said.

"We deserve to be there and the best team will win. We will be ready for the game for sure."

 

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