Germany entered Wednesday’s contest having lost each of its previous 25 meetings with Finland.
They now have a record of 1 win and 25 losses after defeating Finland 4-3 in the most competitive match to date at the 2024 World Junior Championship.
Finland is 0-2 this year, putting them in a difficult position heading into Friday’s game against Latvia. Suddenly, that match could be important in finding out who has to play in the relegation round. And while this victory does not guarantee anything for the Germans, who many expected to finish last in Group A, the hope is that they may just need one more point to survive. It gave me some leeway.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with Veit Oswald scoring a goal at 5:58. Three minutes later, Tomi Manisto scored on a breakaway to make it 1-0, giving Finland some breathing room after trailing 13-6 in the first inning. The second period started out super wild. Kasper Haltunen put Finland ahead with a goal at 21:27, but Germany’s Niklas Hübner and Finland’s Sam Baugh both scored to make it three points at 98 seconds.
The Germans then counterattacked, with Roman Köchter scoring at 33:07 to make it 3-3. A minute and a half later, Oswald’s second goal was the winning goal, and the Germans held on long enough for a 4-3 victory.
In more disappointing news, Simon Wolff, who was considered Germany’s number one goaltender, returned to Germany for the following reasons. health reasons. That means Nico Pertucci will take over his position and Philipp Dietl will start.
#34 Tomi Manisto, LW (undrafted): Manisto was one of the best skaters in the tournament, and Finland’s first goal was a perfect example of that. He forced a turnover and made his team’s second shot of the game, creating a breakout opportunity. The way he used his speed to break through defenders up front was impressive and helped to revitalize the Finns after a poor start. He started the tournament as the 13th forward, but found himself getting more chances in the fourth line, a solid energy trio with Sam Bowe and Emil Hemming.
#21 Sam Bowe, C (Arizona Coyotes): Baugh lost Germany’s first goal, but the 6-foot-5 center made his presence felt for the rest of the game. He had two assists and had a solid year for the U-20 team. His game isn’t built around offense, but there are few players in this tournament who are as difficult to steal the puck from. I would like to send a special shout out to Emil Heming, who performed well in both games.
#22 Kasper Haltunen, RW (San Jose Sharks): Haltunen had one of the best shots of the tournament, firing a shot over the head of goalkeeper Philipp Dietl, leading to Finland’s 2-1 goal. They took five shots in the first two periods alone, giving them plenty of chances to turn things around. There were eight minutes left and all that was left was a goal. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before they score a point on the power play.
#13 Veit Oswald, LW (undrafted): It’s easy to put him here just because he scores goals, but Oswald does a lot of good things around the net. His relentless effort to keep his eye on the puck led to Germany’s go-ahead goal in the first period. Kokko then had a great chance to catch up and almost scored with 30 seconds left for his second goal. Oswald then scored his second goal on target to make the game 4-3 and regain momentum for the Germans, who had struggled to find opportunities on net. Germany has few offensive weapons, so WJC returning players will be key to keeping Germany in the top division.
#27 Nicklas Hibner, D (undrafted): Having not scored any goals since 2022, it seemed unlikely that Hübner would be one of Germany’s top goalscorers here. However, I thought he did a good job as he narrowly scored on his own charge from near the German net. He’s hard to push and his game is focused on staying home, but he needed a good feel to push to win this match.
#14 Kevin Vicker, LW (Detroit Red Wings): Vicker had an assist that day, setting up Hibner’s goal to make it 3-2. He was a great rusher today, creating scoring opportunities for his teammates, especially throughout the first 40 minutes. I would like to see Vicker make further strides with this German team, but I think he did a good job defensively.
#24 Roman Koechter, C (undrafted): Köchter is one of Germany’s hardest working players. He’ll take chances in front of the net, but then he’ll counterattack and kill chances on the other end. His goal today was exactly what we’ve seen from him this season, as he pounced on a rebound from Moritz Elias at 33:07 to make the game 3-3. Kechter didn’t give up at any point today, so it was nice to see him rewarded.
#29 Philip Dietl, G (undrafted): Dietl participated in the tournament as a reserve, but was suddenly forced into the starting lineup. He got off to a great start, but it was his performance in the third period where he made 16 saves that helped secure the victory. There’s no pressure on Dietl, who will need another performance like that to keep Germany in this tournament, but it was a great start.
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