Saturday, April 30, 2011
It certainly did not take long for the first upset in the 2011 IIHF World Championships, as in the very first game of the tournament Germany defeated Russia for the first time ever at the World Championships in 32 previous meetings dating back to 1954 when Russia was a part of the Soviet Union.
And not only did Germany defeat Russia, but it was by a shutout as well. With a the Russian lineup stocked with the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Maxim Afinogenov, Alexander Radulov and Alexei Morozov, German goaltender and last year's tournament MVP Dennis Endras stopped 31 shots for the win.
Goalie Dennis Endras was the center of focus for Germany prior to the game
"Our players executed the game plan perfectly, and we had good goaltending," said the Germans head coach Uwe Krupp. "It was a day when just about everything worked in our favor."
Unlike in the past, when teams with admittedly lesser talent sit back and play tight defense, only counter attacking when after an opponent's mistake, Germany nearly equalled the Russians in shots on goal with 27. Playing in his first game in months after leaving his KHL club early in December of 2010 and refusing to report to the New York Islanders after being claimed on waivers as part of an attempt to re-enter the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, Evgeni Nabokov took the loss in goal for Russia.
The first period was a tightly played one, which saw both teams get several chances and throw some big hits, but it ended with no score.
Endras keeps Russia off the scoreboard
Germany broke the stalemate with a goal at 4:19 of the second period when Thomas Greilinger's shot got under Nabokov's right arm and trickled across the goal line.
Germany's first goal about to creep over the line
Patrick Reimer sealed the victory for Germany when he scored on a backhander during a breakaway with 2:07 remaining in the game. Russian tried to respond, but an ill-advised penalty against Radulov for roughing scuttled any remaining Russian hopes.
"We played hard for 60 minutes," said Endras. "I think we were the better hockey team for the first 40 mintues. We made our gaps pretty tight and they didn't have much room."
The Germans celebrate their historic win
In other Group A action, the host Slovaks opened with a win in front of a partisan crowed 3-1 over Slovenia. The next vital game for Germany comes when they face Slovakia on Sunday, with both teams keen to try to win the group in light of the unexpected vulnerability of the Russians.
Today's featured jersey is a 1998 Germany National Team Uwe Krupp jersey as worn by the German head coach during the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Krupp was only the second German-born player in the NHL, following Walk Tkaczuk, who played for first the Buffalo Sabres followed by the New York Islanders and Quebec Nordiques. He then moved with the club when they became the Colorado Avalanche, where he scored the Stanley Cup clinching goal in the third overtime in 1996.
His career concluded 30 games with the Detroit Red Wings as well as playing briefly for the Atlanta Thrashers in 2002-03 before retiring.
Krupp became head coach of the Germany National Team in late 2005.
This style of German jersey had a controversial beginning and is known in the collecting hobby as "The Double Eagle" jersey, due to it originally being designed for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games with the eagle head on the crest facing to the left.
The jersey design began in the summer of 1996 in order to meet production deadlines for the summer of 1997 six to nine months prior to the Olympics in February of 1998. At the time, such reference options as GettyImages.com or the image search functions found on Google or Yahoo did not exist and the designer used books in the Nike sports library for inspiration. Photos were found of a German long jumper from he late 70's as well as a crowd shot from a German National Team soccer match.
The eagle head in the long jumper photo was oriented to the athlete's left and the waving flags held by the soccer fans were seen from both sides, and as a result, the eagles were seen facing both left and right. The long jump photo in particular, lacked any signage or numbering of any sort to give a clear indication of the orientation of the original photo.
Other reference materials showed the eagle heads facing both ways and the designer proceeded to orient the eagle head to the left as shown in the photo of the long jumper.
Of note, the eagle was given four feathers on it's wings to distance the Nike produced jerseys from the familiar, iconic three-stripes of competitor Adidas.
The Nike legal department, the German Ice Hockey Federation (the DEB) and the German culture office of the government all signed off on the design of the jersey, which included the logo, and it then went into production.
Press photos were then released of the jersey with the left facing eagle crest, shown here modeled by national team goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
Then the phone rang at Nike customer service...
Someone, reportedly from the southern United States, perhaps near Atlanta, claimed the left facing eagle was the style used by the Nazi party in World War II and the proper eagle now would only be one that faced to the right.
Meetings were called and the designer was questioned about the design and why it faced to the left. A German employee at Nike backed up the designer, saying it was fine that way and it was pointed out that not only had the Nike legal department approved it, but so had the Germans, including a branch of their own government, where one would expect sensitivities to Nazi imagery would be at it's highest.
Still, not wanting to risk any bad publicity, due to concerns at the time over sweat shops in Asia producing Nike goods and recent issues Reebok had undergone with Muslims over a clothing design, it was decided to alter the jerseys to re-orient the eagle so that it would now be looking to the right.
A new set of right-facing eagle patches were quickly manufactured and sewn over the original dye-sublimated logo prior to the Olympics in February. None of the jerseys were sold at retail with the over-patching, so all of the "double eagle" jerseys in existence are game worn examples.
Today's featured jersey is a retail version, as designated by it's tagging as a size "L", where a team issued jersey would be tagged with a number designation such as a size "56", and therefore has a dye-sublimated crest, which in it's original left orientation which caused all the concern in the first place.
Today's video segment are the highlights from Germany's stunning upset of Russia at the 2011 World Championships in Slovakia.
Our next highlight is Uwe Krupp scoring the cup winning goal in the third overtime of Game 4 of the 1996 finals. Note the Florida fans unleashing their final torrent of rats on the ice after the goal which goaltender Patrick Roy forced them to hang on to throughout the game following his declaration of "no more rats" after being pelted with them following a goal earlier in Game 3.