The German ice hockey team has kept their World Championship hopes alive after a 2-0 victory over Latvia. The result sets the stage for a crucial dual with the United States on Sunday.
Germany took another important step towards qualification into the quarterfinals Saturday at the World Championship in Helsinki. Goals from Christoph Ullmann and Patrick Hager in the second and third periods gave the Germans their second win in a row.
It was a rough beginning to the tournament for Germany, who started the competition with an overtime loss to Finland, followed by two more losses to Russia and Slovakia. But after a 2-0 win over Austria Wednesday Coach Pat Cortina's men have now recorded two straight victories and two straight shutouts – injecting life into tournament hopes that were once slim.
The Germans opened the scoring in the second period in front of the Latvian net after Philip Gogulla put the puck right on Ullmann's stick from behind the goal. It was Ullmann's 19th goal in 136 games for Germany. Hager's impressive goal from a distance in the next period sealed the win for Germany.
"We are now in a position where the jump up is possible," said Hager.
Goaltender Rob Zepp, the defensive hero of the team's win against Austria, recognized the importance of Saturday's result.
"It was a huge game for our team," said Zepp, who did well to maintain the shutout, including surviving 64 seconds of 5 on 3. "Two shutouts in a row are nice, but two victories in a row are more important."
Germany are now fifth in the Group B table, even on points with Slovakia. Wins over the favored US on Sunday - just 20 hours after facing Latvia - and France on Tuesday are all but necessary if they want to reach the knockout round.
dr/jlw (SID, dpa)