Germans back in 2017
Germans back in 2017
Promoted to top women’s division
After four out of five rounds the Germans won the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A in Aalborg, Denmark, to earn a swift return to the top division.
A double from Laura Kluge and a shutout from Jennifer Harss sends Germany back into the top division of women’s hockey and booked the team its ticket to Plymouth, USA, in 2017. The Germans beat its nearest rival in the standings, France, 5-0 on Tuesday.
“I can’t find words. It was such a great team effort,” explains an ecstatic Germany assistant captain Andrea Lanzl outside of her team’s dressing room that has been filled with cheers and singing still 10 minutes after the win.
“It is amazing! It is my first championship that we win and I am very happy,” said Laura Kluge
“It feels great! We are super happy about it. It feels awesome,” says an excited German goalkeeper Jennifer Harss.
Harss made 16 saves to record her second consecutive shutout, knocking aside everything that was shot at her. The three-year-veteran has by far been the stand-out goaltender in Aalborg and proved that once again against France. The 28-year-old made crucial saves throughout the afternoon, but none more-so with her team only 1-0 up in the first period when she kicked aside a shot from Amandine Cuasnit, after the Frenchwomen found herself with a free shooting lane 11:10 into the period.
“My team has played super-well in front of me and that helps me a lot,” said Harss about her players and continued. “I knew what kind of games I had to expect coming here. I was mentally prepared for not seeing as many shots, but being mentally ready. That was my main focus.”
Young championship-leading goal and point scorer Laura Kluge netted twice to continue her hot form in Denmark, helping her team onto victory. The 19-year-old, who is in just her second year with the senior women’s national team, has impressed with her 6 goals and 3 assists to currently sit at the top of both the individual goal and point scoring standings with one game day still to play.
“I have no idea if I am leading or not,” says a shy and modest Kluge. “I think we have done a good job playing as a team.”
Player-of-the-Match against France, Andrea Lanzl scored three points, assisting twice and getting a goal of her own. Lanzl has been with the German team since their Olympic campaign in 2014. The 28-year-old from Starnberg felt the pain of relegation from the top division last year and says that it was always the goal for the ladies to get back up to the top as soon as possible.
“It was our plan, our goal, to get up as soon as possible. We know what was going on in the top division and we wanted to go back,” said Lanzl.
“We knew how difficult it would be to go back up, so we went straight with our game plan the whole tournament. We were so self-confident. Everyone knew their role in the team and we had great coaching staff that always said that we could do it.”
With the goal of always returning to the top division and staying as competitive as possible, the Germans prepared for the Division I Group A by playing exhibition games against many of the top-flight European teams like Sweden, Finland and Russia. This strategy was to keep them as sharp and fast as possible and to ensure that they would control the games in Aaalborg, and give them the best possible chance of promotion. Their plan worked.
“We needed those games to play at the higher level, to have the speed of the game and be fast. To battle against the good teams helps us in this situation. We had to go and make the game,” explained Lanzl.
Germany will celebrate their win, no doubt long into the night and for the coming months, but it will be back to business in the summer when they prepare for the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships in Plymouth and for the Final Olympic Qualification tournament in February.
“As of right now, I can only focus on this tournament but it is going to be great to go up. We are going to work hard in the summer for the World Championships and for the Olympic Qualification,” says Jennifer Harss.
“We will take this self-confidence with us. We know there is no stop and we have to keep getting better every game and tournament. We know that there is more we have to bring. It takes time but we will take the time to work on those things,” says a determined Andrea Lanzl
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