The German men’s hockey team’s stunning run at the 2018 Winter Olympics continued Friday with a 4-3 victory over Canada in the semifinals. The victory books Germany’s first trip to the Olympic gold medal game in hockey history, an incredible feat that required major upsets over several teams.
A tournament without the NHL ensured that this would be a chaotic tournament, and the Germans have taken advantage with a result that would’ve been impossible in a tournament with the best players in the world. Sorry, Leon Draisaitl, but leading that team past juggernauts from Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the United States wasn’t going to be happen.
But in a tournament without all of those players, an unheralded group of Germans has made an incredible run to its first gold medal game. Now the team has already guaranteed its first Olympic medal in men’s hockey since 1976, when the country was still split in two and Berlin was divided by a massive wall.
The way it happened was surely a stunner to everyone watching up north in Canada. Brooks Macek, a dual-national who was born in Winnipeg, scored the Germans’ opening goal in the first period.
Germany would push its leads to 3-0 and 4-1 from there before Canada started a third-period comeback that proved to be too little, too late. Mat Robinson and Derek Roy scored in the first 10 minutes, leading to a thrilling end that included two Canadian power plays, but goaltender Danny Aus Den Birken hung on to get the win.
While there are no NHL players in this game, it was a major upset of hockey’s main national powerhouse. According to the IIHF, “there were 20,646 registered hockey players in Germany in 2017. The number in Canada was 631,295,” says the Toronto Star. Canada had a lot more players to choose from to build its roster for this tournament than the Germans did, even without the game’s biggest stars available.
Now we wait for the gold medal game Saturday night between Germany and a heavily favored Olympic Athletes from Russia. If the Germans can pull off one last upset and leave Pyeongchang with gold, it’ll go down as one of the biggest Olympic upsets ever.