The German players knew before faceoff against France that their world championship dreams were over. After watching Slovakia celebrate at their expense, Germany bowed out with an overtime win against France.
Tuesday's 3-2 win in overtime against France put Germany fifth in its group and ninth overall in the Ice Hockey World Championships, falling just short of a top-eight spot in the quarterfinals. The Germans beat out 10th-placed Norway, with an identical points record, courtesy of a far superior goal difference.
After watching Slovakia beat the US 4-1 and secure a spot in the quarterfinals, only pride was at stake against France for coach Pat Cortina's side. Last week's narrow 3-2 defeat to Slovakia ultimately proved decisive, and the Germans watched their rivals celebrate before their later game.
"The mood among us then of course was not good, because we knew that this would be our last game," captain and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said after the game. Ehrhoff won the game for Germany on Tuesday, hitting two during the match. His overtime match-winner fell after just 65 seconds of sudden death play. France and Germany both found the net in the first period, en route to the 2-2 regular time tie, with France adding a second-period goal and Germany leveling the score in the last passage of normal play.
After losing its opening three games in Helsinki, Germany rallied to win three of its remaining four in the tournament, nearly reaching the knock-out phases.
"We can be satisfied despite this," Florida Panthers center Marcel Goc said after the game. "We have played well, also against the top countries."
"At this competition we have received many compliments from the ice hockey world," coach Cortina said. "We did everything that we could." He also reminded reporters that after Germany's disastrous start to the competition, Tuesday's game might simply have been about avoiding relegation to Division 1 Group A next year, the punishment for finishing last in the tournament. He reserved special praise for his captain Ehrhoff.
"Christian was unbelievable today," Cortina said. "What a leader! He was on the ice for 26 minutes tonight and it was his seventh game in 12 days - that says all you need to know about him."
Germany was hoping to perform well at the competition, after losing its ticket to the Winter Olympics in Socchi earlier this year. Back in February, Germany failed to secure maximum points from a regulation-time win over Austria, instead beating their rivals only after overtime.
msh/jr (dpa, SID)