HELSINKI – The German national ice hockey player knew he could also thank NHL goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer after his first World Cup win in Finland.
“Grubby was unbelievable,” praised NHL top defender Moritz Cedar. The goalkeeper at Seattle Kranken held firm and, with the passion of his struggling teammates, ensured a hard-fought 2:1 (0:0, 2:1, 0:0) against Slovakia, which had competed in the Olympics.
Grubauer “Critical Player”
“What’s there to say? There are shots on goal and you think: “Kiss my ass”. And he laughs his head. It’s just a dream to see,” the goal scorer in honor of the goalkeeper late Saturday in Helsinki Leo Fodral said.
Because his Seattle patient was too weak for playoff qualification in the NHL, the North American professional league, Grubauer was able to travel to Finland for the World Cup. Rosenheim’s 30-year-old was a vital support in the second German group game, in contrast to a 3-5 win against Canada at the start of the preliminary round on Friday evening. “Philip was definitely one of the key players. He was very, very strong,” said national coach Tony Soderholm.
First success on the way to quarter finals
In competing at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist lost to Slovakia 4–0 and missed the knockout stage. Now the first success on the intended path to the quarter-finals, against the bronze medalist of the Winter Games.
Mannheim striker Matthias Plakta (22nd) and German champion Eisbren Berlin’s Foderl (27th) gave DEB selection the lead in the middle third. Grubauer only allowed Christiane Pospisil (32nd) to connect. “It was a team effort. It wouldn’t have been possible without the people in front of me,” he said.
For Söderholm, the first breakthrough in a second World Cup game against a direct competitor for the quarter-finals was a game that was “close enough” to his ideal. “It was almost the fastest game I’ve had with the national team in the last few years,” said the 44-year-old Finn. “You had to be able to play ice hockey properly today. It was really quick.”
The 2021 World Cup semi-finalists will meet France on Monday (7:20 pm / Sport1 and Magentasport), after a Sunday without play. Söderholm has yet to say whether Grubauer should also record a breakthrough against the outsider or whether Berlin champion goalkeeper Mathias Niederberger will be used.
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