Germany Hold Off Comeback, Shock Canada in Olympics Hockey 2018

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2018

Matthias Plachta (22), of Germany, shoot the puck past goalie Kevin Poulin (31), of Canada, for a goal during the second period of the semifinal round of the men's hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Germany shocked Canada in the 2018 Olympic hockey tournament semi-finals on Friday, running out to a three-goal lead and staving off a furious comeback in a 4-3 win.

The Germans proved efficient in front of goal, converting a good percentage of their shots, while the Canadian power play struggled tremendously throughout the match. Penalties didn't help, and the scorer of Cananda's first goal, Gilbert Brule, was given a game misconduct.

The Olympic Athletes from Russia had already qualified for Sunday's final with a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic.

            

Recap

Derek Roy fired the first chance of the match on goal just a few minutes into the contest following a poor giveaway, but veteran goalkeeper Danny aus den Birken made a fine save with his glove.

The 33-year-old stopper was kept busy early, with Wojtek Wolski also launching a prodding shot.

Canada's power-play unit struggled in the first period, with several poor spells, and after Rene Bourque took a faceoff violation in a four-on-four situation, it set up a five-on-three spell for the Germans. They promptly took full advantage, as Brooks Macek―from Winnipeg, Manitoba―deposited the puck into the net for the opener.

Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star couldn't believe it:

Roy had a golden opportunity to tie things up before the end of the first period, but he failed to hit the target on the breakaway.

Goaltender Kevin Poulin was put to work early in the second period, and he had no chance against Matthias Plachta, who took a great pass from Patrick Hager at the circle and fired home to double the lead.

Per Josh Clipperton of the Canadian Press, the favourites were in serious trouble:

Things got even worse for the Canadians in the second period. Frank Mauer had all kinds of space in the slot, going face-to-face with Poulin after some good passing and putting the puck away to give the Germans a 3-0 lead.

The Canadians soon pulled one back through Brule on the power play after Yannic Seidenberg gave away a silly penalty. His one-time finish was exactly what Canada needed, even if they still had a mountain to climb.

But disaster struck again thereafter, with Patrick Hager tipping in Germany's fourth goal.

Brule didn't help matters by checking David Wolf to the head, getting a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

CBC's Devin Heroux's reaction to Brule's ejection summarised the uphill struggle Canada would have to reach the gold-medal game:

Arthur took a good look at the replay of Brule's hit and agreed with the decision to toss him:

Canada were able to kill the five-minute major, but with a three-goal deficit, they seemed a lost cause entering the third period.

They scored early in the third, as Mat Robinson crashed the net to put a second goal away for his team.

There was hope:

Almost immediately after the puck dropped, the Germans earned a penalty shot, but Dominik Kahun couldn't work the puck past Poulin.

Canada went in a desperate search of more goals, pushing forward and earning a power play halfway through the period. Roy's hopeful effort was deflected into the net, bringing his team within a single goal of tying things up.

Another power play followed with nine minutes left, and offsetting penalties even led to four-on-four hockey. But Germany's penalty-kill unit was on point. Canada coach Willie Desjardins made the decision to pull the goalie with just over two minutes left.

It was all for naught, however, as the Germans held on for the win.

Germany will face the Olympic Athletes from Russia in the final on Sunday. Canada, meanwhile, will face the Czech Republic in the bronze-medal game on Saturday.

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