The German men's ice hockey team's first world championship semifinal appearance in 11 years ended in an unfortunate 2-1 defeat to defending champions Finland in Riga on Saturday night.
The Finns went into the tie as favorites and had already beaten Germany 2-1 in the group stage, and they flew into an early lead in the semifinal too courtesy of Iiro Pakarinen (14') and Hannes Björninen (19').
German goaltender Mathias Niederberger more than played a hand in the opener, allowing Pakarinen's rather harmless effort to glide between his legs, before Björninen capitalized on sloppy passing to make it two, and give Germany a mountain to climb.
"The goals were completely unnecessary," said forward Dominik Kahun. "But I still think we're the better team."
Indeed, Germany created better chances in the first period and demonstrated in the second that, individual errors aside, they could more than hold their own against the three-time world champions.
Mannheim's Matthias Plachta gave Germany hope of repeating their quarterfinal heroics against Switzerland when he got his team back into the game in the 32nd minute, but it was too little for the wasteful Germans.
Nevertheless, following the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in 2018, another semifinal appearance is confirmation that German ice hockey is on the right path.
Germany still have a chance to end their 68-year wait for a world championship medal in Sunday's bronze medal game against the United States, who lost the other semifinal 4-2 to Canada.