Team USA and Auston Matthews were in tough against a German team that had added New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, but lost Arizona Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder to injury. They knew they could outplay the Germans, but could they outscore them?
German's rookie coach Marco Sturm used his home team advantage to keep the NHL defence pair of Christian Ehrhoff (Chicago Blackhawks) and Korbinian Holzer (Anaheim Ducks) out against Auston Matthews as much as possible. The tactic worked.
Matthews lead the USA with four shots on goal, but only managed one point on his power play goal.
Time after time, he'd work his magic, get in to great scoring position, and Holzer would block the shot or Ehrhoff would sweep it away. They were on him physically, delivering the kinds of checks you don't see so often in the Swiss league, and he stood up and was still the best player for the US, narrowly edging Brock Nelson, who had joined the team.
But the Germans had Greiss, and even when he was taking his frustrations out on his teammate Nelson and taking a penalty, he was on fire.
Greiss gets 2 minutes for punching his Islanders teammate Brock Nelson. pic.twitter.com/KiEJ2JB292— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) 15 May 2016
Griess made 31 saves to Mike Condon's 11, and he's the reason they were in a position to win the game.
Holzer's goal was just the fluke you need to win when you keep a game close.
The surprise win puts Germany in a position to make the medal round. Their last game is against Hungary, and Slovakia will now need a miracle in their final two games against the USA and Finland to overtake Germany.
Holzer, who played for years as a stalwart on defence for the Marlies while making occasional forays into the NHL for the Leafs, has never been a goal scorer. The most he ever scored as an adult was six one year in the DEL and seven once for the Marlies if you count the playoffs. This year for the Ducks and for the San Diego gulls, he has six assists and no goals. For Germany at this tournament, he had zero points going into this game.
This was his one and only goal of the year. That's hockey.