World Juniors Preview: Can Germany Make A Push?

The 2019/2020 World Juniors Championship is quickly approaching in just seven days and Team Germany is ready to get back to the big stage after being promoted from the D1A tournament last season. While Germany may not be the favourites to make it far into the holiday tournament, we cannot count them out with the likes of Tim Stutzel and defensemen Moritz Seider. Germany has the talent and experience that is necessary to surprise many people.

Professional Experience

Germany may not have a star-studded roster similar to the likes of Team Canada or Team USA, however, they do still have some stars in their own respect heading into Ostrava. They have a team that features plenty of players with experience playing against men which is something that some of the big-name teams like the USA cannot say they have. Many of team Germany’s players come from the Deutsche Eishockey Liga which is the top flight men’s league in Germany.

While some come from the U20 circuits, many have experience playing against men which is quite valuable when playing against the younger, possibly more talented competition. While not everyone on the roster has had the chance to play in the DEL, many have also played against men at a slightly lower level such as the DEL2 league.

European Ice

In addition to the professional experience that many players on the roster possess, they are used to the ice which is something that the Canadian and American teams cannot say they are. The World Juniors are played on international ice which is larger than the ice in North America. This means that the overall game is slightly different and while it may not seem like a big deal, being used to the larger ice surfaces is a big asset for Germany.

Considering the fact that most players on the roster play on European ice against men in a top-flight league, they should be a lot more comfortable than their North American counterparts. While this will only help against the two North American teams, it is still an interesting fact to consider.

Monika Skolimowska/Getty Images North America

Star Talent

Just because not everyone on their roster was a big name draft pick, that doesn’t mean that Germany does not have its own set of star players. The roster is highlighted by Morris Seider, Dominik Bokk and 17-year-old forward Tim Stutzle. Seider was the sixth overall pick at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings.

He is currently playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL where he has been a big part of the team’s blue-line. Dominik Bokk was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2018 and was recently traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in a package deal that brought Justin Faulk to the Blues. Stutzle, on the other hand, is a top-10 prospect for the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Stutzle has been tearing up the DEL and is a lock for the league’s Rookie of The Year award. Seider, Bokk and Stutzle are Germany’s big names going into the tournament, but they are not the only important players on a roster that’s full of talent. Florida Panthers 2018 sixth-round pick Justin Schultz is also set to be a big part of the team. The 19-year-old left-winger has enjoyed a strong season and will be looking to make a splash on the big stage.

Goaltending

Goaltending is always an important factor when it comes to the World Juniors Championship. The best teams are almost always backed by some of the best goaltenders available. Last year, Finland won gold at the tournament and were backed by star goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukonen.

The year before that, Canada won and Carter Hart was between the pipes. Germany has two goaltenders who have the potential to help backstop their club. On a team that is ready to battle, the impressive lineup begins with Hendrik Hane.

Hane has spent the past two seasons playing pro ice hockey in Germany and has been great through four games this season for Düsseldorfer EG of the DEL. What makes Hane a player to watch for the tournament is the fact that he led Germany back to the tournament after an astonishing performance at the D1A tournament last season. He started five games for Germany while playing at last year’s tournament, posting a spectacular .949 SV% and a 0.98 GAA.

Although the competition was ultimately not as tough as it will be this year, it was still a fantastic performance that showed that he could help lead his team and be relied upon when it mattered most. It will be tough for Hendrick Hane as he will be facing some of the best young talents in all of hockey, but he seems up for the challenge.

Tobias Ancicka is Germany’s second goaltending option behind Hendrick Hane who is on the rise. Ancicka has been great in the Jr. A SM-liiga for Luuko and got some professional experience last season, getting a couple of starts in the DEL2 in which the numbers he posted were strong. Ancicka has shown great skill in Finland and could be a solid presence in the crease for his team.

While Team Germany is clearly not favoured to win the 2020 World Juniors Championship, they have the skill and experience that is needed to make a push in the holiday tournament.

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