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5 amazing facts about Germany’s run to the Olympic men’s hockey gold medal game

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The German hockey team has already delivered its best result ever.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 14 Photo by Pool/Getty Images

With just one hockey game left in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the men’s tournament has proven to be both things that we expected: (a) A chaotic, wide open competition where anything can happen (b) A red carpet rolled out for the Russians to bring home their first gold medal since 1992.

On the one side, the presence of Germany in the gold medal game shows what the NHL took away. A tournament without the best players in the world cracked open the door for any team to squeeze through, so a team led by former NHL defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and a host of relatively unknown players has done the unexpected.

In a matter of days, the Germans won consecutive elimination games against Switzerland, Sweden, and Canada, who posted a combined 6-1-0-2 record in the group stage. They were all one-goal games, including two that needed overtime, but after losing twice in the group stage, Germany has pulled it together for the games that really matter.

Except on the other side of the bracket is Russia, whose presence in the gold medal game seemed like an inevitability from the beginning of a tournament where every other team was slapped together from disparate sources. The Russians could still turn to KHL stars to build their roster like Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikita Gusev, Pavel Datsyuk, and Kirill Kaprizov, which was always going to give them an advantage.

Now the gold medal game is set, and it’s that juggernaut against an upstart team of unknowns. However, the biggest upset in hockey history came when a superteam of Russians was stunned by a group of unknowns in Lake Placid. This could the Germans’ “Miracle on Ice,” or ... ***quickly types into Google*** ... their “Wunder auf Eis.”

Here are some amazing facts about their current run.

This is already Germany’s best Olympic run ever

Even if they lose to Russia in the gold medal game, this is already the Germans’ best showing in Olympic hockey of all time. The team had won bronze in 1932, and West Germany won bronze in 1976, but the 2018 team is already guaranteed at least a silver medal.

It’ll be the Germans’ first silver medal in Olympic hockey, and the first time they’ve finished second or better in a major tournament since the 1953 World Championships.

Germany had a 1-27-1 record against Canada

If you’re wondering how amazing it is that the Germans topped the Canadians in the semifinal Friday morning, that sentence above is a good summation. Canada had historically owned Germany in this matchup, including 11 consecutive wins with a combined 58-15 goal differential entering the semifinal. But those games were generally loaded with Canadian NHL superstars, whereas there are fewer than 10 German players in the entire league. With them out of the mix, Germany pulled off a miraculous upset.

They’ve reached the gold medal game with an even goal differential

There’s a good chance that the Germans will leave Pyeongchang with a silver medal despite a negative goal differential. Even now after three straight wins, they’re merely even in terms of goal differential for the tournament.

During group stage play, Germany posted a 0-1-0-2 record with its lone win coming in a shootout over Norway. Otherwise, a pair of losses gave the team a minus-3 goal differential for the round robin.

And while the Germans won their last three games, each one was merely by a goal, so now they’ve finally broken even. Finland finished seventh in the tournament with a plus-7 goal differential. Turns out the timing of those goals is really, really important.

They only have 3 players with NHL experience

While the Russian team boasts future Hockey Hall of Famers like Kovalchuk and Datsyuk, the German team has a pair of former NHLers in their mid-30s and one guy who played three games for the Calgary Flames in 2015.

Team captain Christian Ehrhoff leads the way after spending 12 seasons in the NHL with six different teams. During his peak with the Canucks in 2009-11, he earned back-to-back top-10 finishes in Norris Trophy voting as one of the NHL’s best defensemen. However, injuries and ineffectiveness pushed him out of the league following the 2015-16 season.

The only other player with meaningful NHL experience is forward Marcel Goc, who played 10 seasons in the NHL. His best season came in 2009-10 when he recorded 30 points in 73 games for the Predators.

Germany can become the 7th country to win Olympic gold

Ice hockey is typically dominated by the same few countries, so a German victory would represent something quite rare. Since the first Olympic hockey tournament in 1920, only the United States, Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic, Great Britain, and Russia (previously known as the Soviet Union or Unified Team) have came away with the gold medal.

If Germany can pull off the upset Saturday, it’ll become just the seventh country to win the tournament.