On Wednesday, Germany made history in its 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship debut by defeating Finland 4-3. This is the first time I have beaten a Finn in this tournament.
Returning forward Veit Oswald led the way with two goals, including the go-ahead goal in the second period. German goalkeeper Philipp Dietl made 40 saves.
Since the first IIHF World Junior Championship, held in Czechoslovakia in 1977, Finland has boasted a record of 25-0 against Germany, with a goal difference of 141-31. However, this match was by no means a foregone conclusion.
The Finns outscored the Germans 43-28, but remain winless through two games in Gothenburg and remain meaningless. The Finn last won the world juniors in 2019 (Vancouver) and is not considered a favorite this year. The two sides have looked apart so far, including a 5-2 loss to defending champion Canada.
Germany’s best result at the World Junior Championships was 5th place (1981). Coach Tobias Abstreiter achieved sixth-place finishes in 2021 and 2022.
The Germans entered the game with great spirit, inspired by assistant captain Julian Lutz, who joined the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers this season as a 2022 second-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes.
Finland suffered a crushing defeat. Lauri Mikkola’s side won 13-6, converting only two penalties in the first period.
Oswald pounced on a turnover in Finland’s defensive zone and tipped Erik Holdler’s rebound past goaltender Niklas Kokko to give Germany a 1-0 lead at 5:58.
Tomi Manisto scored the tying goal at 1-1 at 8:11. Breaking through the neutral zone and receiving a headman feed from Emil Hemming, the Michigan State attacker broke in alone and beat Dietl with a forehand.
The Finns picked it up late in the frame, but were still lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw until the 20th minute.
In the second period, Oswald came close to giving Germany the lead again. The EHC Munich product darted out from the right side and hit the puck onto the crossbar with great force.
As the intensity increased, the teams exchanged quick goals. Kasper Haltunen put Finland ahead 2-1 with a short side laser past Dietl at 1:27. The London Knights sniper led Suomi with 10 points at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Switzerland.
Just 45 seconds later, Niklas Hübner tied the game on a rushing pass from Kevin Vicker. Sam Bowe then hacked a poorly angled rebound that bounced off the German netminder’s pad to give Finland a 3-2 lead at 3:05.
Finland’s forecheck forced Germany into a corner around the halfway mark. But Germany continued to attack relentlessly, with Köchter pushing the puck past Cocco’s left post to make it 3-3 at 13:07.
At 14:38, Oswald gave his team an unassailable lead. He slid in from the left side and squeezed the puck past Kokko’s arms on the short side.
In the third period, the Germans were down 17-5 but fought hard. With less than 10 minutes left in regulation, Dietl stoned Leni Hamenaho and Haltunen at close range.
In a desperate situation, Lutz made a slash and Finland had a great chance to tie the game. They pulled away from Kokko and gained a 6-4 advantage, but could do nothing and the Germans celebrated making history.