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2019 World Championship Preview: Germany

With a new head coach, Germany is looking to start this Olympic cycle off strong

Japan v Germany - Women’s Ice Hockey International Friendly Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Schedule

Germany is in Group B with the Czech Republic, France, Japan, and Sweden.

  • April 4, 6:30 a.m E.T. | Germany vs. Sweden
  • April 6, 12 p.m. E.T. | Japan vs. Germany
  • April 8, 12 p.m. E.T. | Germany vs. France
  • April 9, 12 p.m. E.T. | Czech Republic vs. Germany

Roster

  • Forwards: Naemi Bär, Anne Bartsch, Marie Delarbre, Nicola Eisenschmid, Celina Haider, Nina Kamenik, Bernadette Karpf, Laura Kluge, Andrea Lanzl, Emily Nix, Marie-Kristin Schmid, Kerstin Spielberger, Julia Zorn
  • Defenders: Tabea Botthof, Lena Düsterhöft, Anna-Maria Fiegert, Daria Gleißner, Rebecca Graeve, Yvonne Rothemund, Carina Strobel
  • Goalies: Jule Flötgen, Jennifer Harß, Ivonne Schröder
  • Head coach: Christian Künast

Players to Watch

Marie Delarbre

Delarbre is the second-leading scorer in the Frauen-Bundesliga this year. Playing for ECDC Memmingen, she put up offensive totals of 25 goals, 54 assists, and 79 points in 27 games. She’s a 25-year-old forward who’s been able to chip in some goals for Team Germany in recent years against tough competition. Back at the 2017 World Championship, she potted two goals and an assist for the team.

Anna-Maria Fiegert

Fiegert was a linchpin on the blue line during her years at Minnesota State, and should log some tough minutes in this tournament for Germany. One of their top defenders, Tanja Eisenschmid, is out of the tournament due to injury, so the entire D corps will have to step up to help shoulder the load. Fiegert can make a big difference for the Germans with a solid two-way performance in Espoo.

Laura Kluge

Kluge has had a strong start to her NCAA career over the past two seasons with St. Cloud State. The Huskies aren’t the most potent offensive team, but as a freshman, Kluge stepped into the lineup and notched seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points. She missed some games this season, but still recorded four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 27 appearances.

As a 20-year-old in the 2017 World Championship, Kluge was tied for the team lead in scoring with a goal and three assists, to go along with 12 shots on goal. She has good vision and flair to her skillset, and while she’s one of the younger players on this team, she can be an important part of the offense.

Japan v Germany - Women’s Ice Hockey International Friendly Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Last Time Around

The Germans recorded their highest finish ever at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, coming in fourth place. It was their first time ever playing for a medal at the top level. Germany started off the tournament with back-to-back wins in group play, beating Sweden 3-1 and the Czech Republic 4-2. In the final game of the preliminary round, they fell to Switzerland, but finished in the top two in Group B and advanced to the quarterfinals.

There, Germany earned arguably its biggest win in IIHF World Championship top division play. They upset Russia, 2-1, behind a goal and an assist from Kerstin Spielberger, and 23 saves from Jennifer Harß in net. The Germans seemed to run out of gas after that, and were shut out by the United States and Finland in the semifinal and bronze medal game, respectively. Still, it was a historic showing for Germany on the biggest stage.

Storylines

Germany underwent a coaching change in the middle of the year, replacing Benjamin Hinterstocker with Christian Künast midway through the year. Künast was previously coaching Germany’s men’s World Junior Championship team, so he did not take up the helm for the women’s national team until after the new year. The Germans did play in a tournament in February, though, so they have some experience under their new head coach.

Unsurprisingly, the team really wants to be deep in the running for the 2022 Olympics; in their statement announcing the coaching change, the German federation said that qualifying for the next Olympics will be the long-term goal under Künast. This is the first World Championship of the new Olympic cycle, so it presents a great chance for the Germans to establish themselves as a presence in Group B. Even this early in the cycle, avoiding relegation will be huge for their Olympic hopes and would help instill the confidence needed to perform well for the next four years.