The challenges for the new national ice hockey coach Harold Kreis are getting bigger just a few days before the start of the world championship.
Now, in Yasin Ehliz, another well-planned top performer said goodbye emotionally from the preparation camp in Munich. "Yasin shed tears because he can no longer be there," said DEB sports director Christian Künast about the injury-related failure of the 2018 Olympic silver medalist.
The 30-year-old striker from champions EHC Red Bull Munich is already the 14th top performer that Kreis has withdrawn from his World Cup debut as German head coach due to injury. "Of course we're disappointed, we've already had a few cancellations, but we have to accept it that way," said Kreis before the World Cup dress rehearsal with the remaining squad on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. / Sport1 and MagentaSport) against the World Cup preliminary round opponent USA in Munich.
World Cup starts on Friday
"It will be very, very important for us to grow together. We don't have much time left," said storm veteran Marcel Noebels from Eisbären Berlin. For Söderholm successor Kreis it is the last chance to subject his still unfinished World Cup squad to a final stress test before continuing to Finland on Wednesday. From Friday on, the German team will play in Tampere against eleven-time world champions Sweden, defending champions and hosts Finland and again the USA.
Before this challenging start to the World Cup, Kreis has to reduce its current squad of 26 players by three players. In Finland at the latest, defenders Kai Wissmann and Leon Gawanke, who were eliminated in the AHL playoffs, are expected, and only 25 players may be registered for the World Cup.
Only in the previous week had Kreis replaced half the squad after a hitherto mixed preparation. In Munich, the German-Canadian has to integrate almost a dozen players from the DEL finalists Munich and Ingolstadt as well as NHL reinforcement JJ Peterka. Other possible NHL players are not included. The injury-related cancellations of Moritz Seider (Detroit Red Wings), who had raised the defense to a different level at the past World Cup tournaments, and Tim Stützle (Ottawa Senators), who has been promoted to top striker, hit the team very hard.
Some NHL stars are missing
"One or the other is not there that you would certainly have liked to play with," said Noebels, who not only has to do without the world-class players Leon Draisaitl and Philipp Grubauer, who are still tied in the NHL playoffs, in Finland and Latvia also on the former NHL professionals Tom Kühnhackl, Tobias Rieder and Korbinian Holzer. Among the injured are his 2018 Olympic buddies Ehliz, Matthias Plachta and Patrick Hager.
In particular, sports director Künast met this with purposeful optimism. "Everyone wanted to be here, but it is how it is, our focus is now on the squad that is here," Künast told the German Press Agency. "We also have a very good squad."
Kreis also tried to moderate the plight of the injured. In any case, the 64-year-old does not tend to lament. Kreis received special praise from his predecessor Toni Söderholm, who surprisingly left DEB prematurely and almost hastily last November. The Finn sees exactly the right man in the long-standing DEL coach to master the currently difficult task before the start of the World Cup. "He has a lot of experience and a feel for the game," Söderholm told dpa.
The provisional World Cup squad
Goal: Maximilian Franzreb (Bremerhaven Pinguins/26 years), Mathias Niederberger (EHC Red Bull Munich/30), Dustin Strahlmeier (Grizzlys Wolfsburg/21)
Defense: Dominik Bittner (Grizzlys Wolfsburg/30), Tobias Fohrler (HC Ambri-Piotta/Switzerland/25), Leon Hüttl (ERC Ingolstadt/22), Jonas Müller (Eisbären Berlin/27), Moritz Müller (Cologne Haie/36) , Marco Nowak (Eisbären Berlin/32), Maksymilian Szuber (Red Bull Munich/20), Fabio Wagner (ERC Ingolstadt/27), Mario Zimmermann (Straubing Tigers/22)
Attack: Andreas Eder (Red Bull Munich/27), Alexander Ehl (Düsseldorfer EG/22), Daniel Fischbuch (Düsseldorfer EG/29), Dominik Kahun (SC Bern/Switzerland/27), Maximilian Kastner (Red Bull Munich/30) , Marcel Noebels (Eisbären Berlin/31), John-Jason Peterka (Buffalo Sabers/NHL/21), Justin Schütz (Red Bull Munich/22), Samuel Soramies (Augsburger Panther/24), Wojciech Stachowiak (ERC Ingolstadt/23) , Nico Sturm (San Jose Sharks/NHL/28), Frederik Tiffels (Red Bull Munich/27), Parker Tuomie (Straubing Tigers/27), Filip Varejcka (Red Bull Munich/22)