Slovakia and Germany are playing big at the next world championships. They must not miss each other to be sure of obtaining direct Olympic qualification. But their first results in preparation were disappointing. In the Slovak camp, after voluntarily removing three players (Daniel Gachulinec, Samuel Takáč and Šimon Petráš), the glitches accumulated. Andrej Golian left training with an injury last Tuesday. Mario Grman fell ill and was laid off for a week.
Three players forfeited, all saying they were « not 100% » physically and mentally: Olympic bronze medalist defender Peter Čerešňák said it quickly and the two NHL players Martin Fehervary and Adam Ružička took a few days to think it over their return home but came to the same conclusion.
In the German camp, we are relieved: Dominik Bokk and Nico Sturm, spared a time as a precaution, have resumed their place in the workforce. On the other hand, Alexander Karachun came out injured.
The first confrontation in Žilina began with two German chances within five minutes, a rebound from Daniel Schmölz hitting the far post and an unconverted breakaway by Marcel Noebels. On the contrary, Slovakia is successful by opening the scoring on a shot from Samuel Kňažko deflected by defender Moritz Müller (1-0). Kňažko, who has not scored since November, will say he is happy with this first goal for the national team even if it is purely lucky. At 20, he will be the most used defender by Craig Ramsey with nearly 19 minutes of play, proof of the confidence maintained in young people.
The game remains very open between two teams that have defensive largesse. One of the challenges for Slovakia is to choose between the four goalkeepers still at their disposal. Samuel Hlavaj does not help his cause: he loses the puck behind his cage under pressure from Noebels, which gives Dominik Kahun an equalizer in an empty cage (1-1). Slovakia then dominate the second period, but repeatedly stumble on German goalkeeper Maximilian Franzreb – or on the crossbar in the case of Mario Lunter. Germany proved to be much more effective: Dominik Bokk converted a breakaway from the backhand, and three minutes later Daniel Fischbuch fired a shot between Hlavaj’s boots from the left circle when the Slovak defenders failed to get the puck out their zone several times (1-3).
Slovakia resumed their attack in the third period. Holešinský comes alone in front of Franzreb but his shot misses in his leggings. Robert Lantosi escapes alone, suffers a foul from Jonas Müller but converts the ensuing penalty shot. Germany regains control of the game. Bokk recovers the puck behind the cage against Michal Ivan and serves Kahun who lifts the puck from the backhand in the top of the net (2-4). Craig Ramsay takes out his goalkeeper and Richard Panik places a nice shot from the wrist, but too late (3-4).
The next day in Trenčín, the afternoon opens with a ceremony in honor of the entire Hossa family: the former national coach from 2002 to 2006 Frantisek, but also his two sons Marian and Marcel who were executives of the national team. The president of the federation Miroslav Šatan, who rubbed shoulders with all three, pays tribute to them.
In the Slovak team, Pavol Regenda – revelation of the Olympic season who made his NHL debut this season – made a remarkable entrance: after a concussion in early April in the AHL, he has not participated in collective training since in order to follow the protocol but still joined the Slovak camp at the beginning of the week. And for his resumption match, it was he who opened the scoring at the end of the first period, taking advantage of the second German penalty (against Fohrler to retain). Regenda takes in the open angle a cross pass from the young Martin Chromiak (20 years old), author of a beautiful entry into the offensive zone on the right wing.
Slovakia doubled the advantage at the start of the second period, when Richard Pánik completed a fine combination of Gernát and Lantoši. Daniel Fischbuch reduces the score with a dazzling shot fired between the circles (2-1). But Slovakia is more active and more structured, to regain a two-goal lead. Lantoši misses his second good chance of the match, but Regenda proves to be more precise, this time taking back a pass from the left of Matúš Sukeľ (3-1). However, Germany managed to make up the loss in the very last minute before the break: Fischbuch converted Nico Sturm’s pass at 2 against 1 and captain Moritz Müller equalized at the last second from the left side (3-3).
The jinx seems to fall on the Slovaks in the third period. First, Pánik enters the offensive zone but his shot hits the crossbar. then, goalkeeper Tomek, who had seemed to feel a first alert during the two goals conceded before the return to the locker room, left the ice, injured. The young Šimon Latkóczy (20 years old, with the mitten on the right) makes his entrance. And he stands out with a magnificent save in front of Manuel Wiederer at close range. Germany finished strong but did not score.
In overtime, however, Pánik gets on the ice too early: too many. Moritz Müller scored the winning goal 4 against 3 on a one-timer: it was the first double in the national team for the experienced defender, also captain of the Nationalmannschaft.
That makes four defeats in as many games for Slovakia. They will nevertheless introduce three more Olympic medals, defender Mislav Rosandič and forwards Miloš Kelemen and Libor Hudáček, before facing Austria to find their way back to normal victory.
Germany is in a more complicated situation. Its calendar, established to schedule home matches at a time when the Bavarian ice rinks were still all open, leaves a void. She must integrate the many DEL finalists but has no match scheduled for next weekend. She will only play once again, on Tuesday May 9 against the Americans. And this late meeting will not even be an opportunity to integrate its two most important NHL players since Leon Draisaitl and goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer have just qualified for the second round of the play-offs.
Comments after the second game :
Peter Frühauf (Slovakia assistant coach): “You could see that the guys were more tired than yesterday. The end of the first match probably cost them a lot of strength when they tried to turn things around. In this match, the Germans were more aggressive in forechecking and we had problems with that in our zone. [Tomek] has a wound that should heal completely in a few days. Nothing serious. [Interrogé sur Regenda] I don’t like to rate a single player. The whole offense played very well, the guys played at high speed and were dangerous in the offensive zone. They got straight to the point and were rewarded with goals. We are happy with Pavol, he was quite aggressive even in the physical game. He played as he should. »
Pavol Regenda (Slovakia striker): “When we were down 3-1, we started making mistakes. Coach Ramsay told us to play simpler. Because a better opponent will punish every mistake. I felt good, no problem. I just sweated because the air was badly ventilated, I also had cramps at the end. We understood each other well on our line. Mato and Matúš are fast players, Chromiak is strong with the puck and has a good shot like ‘Suki’. If we continue like this, it will be fine. The goals I scored were in the open cage, made by my partners. The atmosphere was great too, I missed it, it’s not like that in America. There were drums, it was great. »
Martin Chromiak (Slovakia striker): “It was unreal. Every player who has played for Dukla [Trenčín] dream of this moment. I played here with Sam Kňažko and Šimon Latkóczy, we wanted to enjoy it. I’m glad that Simon also had his chance and got to taste this atmosphere. I had goosebumps warming up, the left side of the stands was already full. I’m home after I don’t know how many years. »
photos SZLH / Andrej Galica
Slovakia – Germany 3-4 (1-1, 0-2, 2-1)
Friday April 28, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. at the Niké Aréna in Žilina. 5046 spectators.
Referees: Tomáš Hronský and Miroslav Štefik assisted by Šimon Synek and Peter Jedlička (all SVK).
Penalties: Slovakia 6′ (2′, 2′, 2′); Germany 12′ (2′, 8′, 2′).
Shots: Slovakia 38 (7, 11, 20); Germany 29 (10, 9, 10).
1-0 at 04:04: Kňažko assisted by Tamáši and Kudrna (digital over)
1-1 at 16’36: Kahun assisted by Mo. Müller
1-2 at 29’50: Bokk assisted by Kahun
1-3 at 32’42: Fischbuch assisted by Schmölz and Kammerer
2-3 at 44’15: Lantoši (penalty shot)
2-4 at 54’10: Kahun assisted by Bokk
3-4 at 58’55: Pánik assisted by Lantoši and Gernát (empty goal)
Richard Panik – Marek Hrivík (C) – Peter Cehlárik
Mario Lunter – Alex Tamasi – Robert Lantosi (+1)
Andrej Kudrna – Matúš Sukeľ – Martin Chromiak
Maroš Jedlička (-3) – Viliam Čacho (-2) – Adrián Holešinský (-3, 2′)
Jozef Baláž (-2)
Samuel Kňažko (-1) – Martin Gernat (2′)
Michal Ivan (-1) – Michal Beno (-1)
Adam Jánošík (-2) – David Mudrák (2′)
František Gajdos (-1)
Substitute: Stanislav Škorvánek (G). In the stands: Matej Tomek (G), Šimon Latkóczy (G), Martin Faško-Rudáš, Pavol Regenda (A).
Marcel Noebels (+2) – Dominik Kahun (+3) – Dominik Bokk (+3)
Samuel Soramies (-1) – Nico Sturm (-1) – Alexander Ehl (-1)
Parker Tuomie – Manuel Wiederer – Maximilian Kammerer (+1)
Daniel Schmolz (+1) – Tobias Eder (2′) – Daniel Fischbuch (+1)
Moritz Müller (C, 2′) – Dominik Bittner
Jonas Muller (+2) – Marco Nowak (+2, 2′)
Mario Zimmermann (-1) – Tobias Fohrler (+2, 2′)
Oliver Mebus – Julius Karrer (4′)
Subs: Dustin Strahlmeier (G), Luis Schniko (A). In the stands: Tobias Ancicka (L), Marcus Weber (D), Tim Fleischer (A).
Slovakia – Germany 3-4 after extra time (1-0, 2-3, 0-0, 0-1)
Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. at the Pavol Demitra Ice Stadium in Trenčín. 6150 spectators.
Referees: Peter Stano and Miroslav Štefik assisted by Šimon Synek and Daniel Konc jr (all SVK).
Penalties: Slovakia 2′ (0′, 0′, 0′, 2′); Germany 4′ (4′, 0′, 0′, 0′).
Shots: Slovakia 28 (12, 11, 5, 0); Germany 28 (6, 11, 9, 2).
1-0 at 17’42: Regenda assisted by Chromiak and Kňažko (digital over)
2-0 at 20’27: Pánik assisted by Lantoši and Gernát
2-1 at 22’34: Fischbuch assisted by Fleischer
3-1 at 27’26: Regenda assisted by Sukeľ and Chromiak
3-2 at 39’12: Fischbuch assisted by N. Sturm and Bittner
3-3 at 39’59: Mo. Müller assisted by Ehl and Bittner
3-4 at 61’12: Mo. Müller assisted by Fischbuch and Noebels (digital sup.)
Slovakia (2′ for excess)
Richard Panik (+1) – Alex Tamasi (+1) – Robert Lantosi (+1)
Pavol Regenda – Matúš Sukeľ – Martin Chromiak
Maroš Jedlička (-1) – Viliam Čacho (-1) – Adrián Holešinský (-1)
Andrej Kudrna (-1) – Jozef Baláž (-1) – Martin Faško-Rudáš (-1)
Samuel Kňažko (+1) – Martin Gernat (-1)
Michal Ivan – Michal Beno (+1)
Adam Janosik (-1) – David Mudrak
František Gajdos (-2)
Matej Tomek then at 45’32 Simon Latkóczy
In reserve: Samuel Hlavaj (G), Stanislav Škorvánek (G), Marek Hrivík, Peter Cehlárik (A).
Marcel Noebels (-1) – Manuel Wiederer (-1) – Dominik Bokk (-2, 2′)
Samuel Soramies (+1) – Nico Sturm (+2) – Alexander Ehl (+1)
Parker Tuomie – Tobias Eder – Maximilian Kammerer
Daniel Schmolz (+1) – Tim Fleischer (+1) – Daniel Fischbuch (+2)
Moritz Muller (C, +1) – Dominik Bittner (+2)
Jonas Muller – Marco Nowak
Mario Zimmermann (-1) – Tobias Fohrler (-1, 2′)
Oliver Mebus – Marcus Weber
Replacements: Tobias Ancicka (G), Luis Schniko (A). In the stands: Maximilian Franzreb (L), Julius Karrer (D), Dominik Kahun (A).