DAS IST GUT: GERMAN OFFENSE CLICKS VERSUS KAZAKHSTAN
By Carie Willson
Germany’s chances of avoiding relegation increased with a solid 3-0 win over Kazakhstan on April 7 at the MTS Centre.
As both teams entered the Relegation Round game with records of two losses each, it seemed that it would be more a question of who’d actually put the puck in the net.
Now, a Kazakh loss to Russia on April 8 will send the blue-and-yellow-clad former Soviet republic down to Division I for 2008. The Kazakhs are scoreless in three straight games.
German goalie Jennifer Harss posted her first shutout of the tournament and second in IIHF competition (the first coming in a 1-0 shootout victory over Russia at the Turin Olympics).
“You never know what’s going to happen,” said Harss about playing against a weaker opponent. “We didn’t have that many shots in the first two periods at all. They had more shots than we did.”
Germany outshot Kazakhstan 33-24 on the night.
“We are very excited that we won,” said German forward Michaela Lanzl. “It was, for us, a must-win situation. We lost the first two games, so we had to show that we can play way better.”
The Germans came out hard from the get-go and picked up their first goals of the tournament from unexpected sources, including forwards Franziska Busch and Andrea Lanzl, who picked up their first goals in a World tournament, and Bettina Evers, who hasn’t lit the red light since 1999. Sabrina Kruck recorded a pair of assists.
While the Kazakhs tried hard, they just couldn’t get the puck past Harss, who redeemed her team after their 1-0 loss to Switzerland and 8-0 blowout to Canada.
At 4:57 of the first period, Busch grabbed a rebound just outside a crowded crease. She spun it around and knocked it home behind Kazakh netminder Yekaterina Ryzhova, making it 1-0 on the power play.
The goal lit a fire under Germany, which followed up with several good but missed opportunities.
At 11:29, they’d get a bit of luck and tally up the go-ahead goal, again on the powerplay. Michaela Lanzl started the sequence when her quick shot bounced off Ryzhova’s left pad. Maritta Becker picked it up and whacked the rebound into an outstretched pad. The third time was the charm, as the puck rebounded to the stick of Andrea Lanzl, who put it into the open side of the net.
Germany kept the pressure up in the second, working hard to kill a series of penalties. But Kazakhstan picked up their game at the halfway point and had a series of great scoring chances.
The Kazakhs dominated the powerplay in the German end, taking a series of shots on net. They just couldn’t get it past Harss, who easily handled the shots. Alexandra Babushkina had the best chance, picking up a pass from Olga Kryukova near the front of the net. But instead of putting it behind Harss, she shot high over the crossbar.
Kazakhstan kept up the heat. With Germany’s Andrea Lanzl in the box after laying Kryukova flat out on her back, the Kazakhs tried again to get it past Harss. But while dominating the play late in the second, it was no use..
At 5:32 of the third period, during a two-man German advantage, Bettina Evers ripped a high slapshot from the faceoff circle past Ryzhova on the stick side to round out the scoring.
Babushkina and Kryukova were forces to be reckoned with in the third, but couldn’t capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
Despite the victory, German Head Coach Peter Kathan was not pleased with his team’s overall effort: “In the second period, character-wise, it was a catastrophe. The last [period] was OK, though. I’m relieved [to get this win].”
The Player of the Game for Germany was Sabrina Kruck, and for Kazakhstan it was Olga Kryukova.
Germany finishes off its Relegation Round slate versus Russia on April 9.