What is Canada's number 1 sport

Riga (AP) - The perfect start to the World Cup strengthens Germany's ice hockey team's longing for another sensation against Canada.

Three years after the match of the century in the Olympic semifinals in Pyeonchang (4: 3), the talented but inexperienced selection feels ready again with plenty of self-confidence to crack the 26-time world champion. "Of course we want to beat Canada now," said captain Moritz Müller briskly on the weekend of Pentecost in Riga. It would be the third World Cup victory in the third game. "We want to win the game, no question about it," said top defender Moritz Seider.

The team had followed the 9: 4 goal spectacle against the corona-plagued Italians with a surprisingly dominant 5: 1 against stronger Norwegians. Without too much pressure, the selection can take on the challenge on Monday (7.15 p.m. / Sport1) against an NHL ensemble without top stars. "It will be important that we don't take a deep breath now, but continue straight at the same pace," demanded Müller. Leon Gawanke, defender in the second-rate North American league AHL, said: "When you play against Canada, number one in the world, you are always hot. That gives you a little extra motivation."

Under the strict Corona rules, there was hardly an opportunity on Sunday to distract yourself before the next task. No strolling, no drinking coffee in town, no excursion was allowed on the Germans' first day without a game. Only the training was a change from the hotel. National coach Toni Söderholm left it up to each player for themselves whether an ice or fitness session is the ideal preparation. The Finn also knows that his team not only needs exceptional team spirit, but also has to improve in order to really create a World Cup sensation . "The Canadians will improve too," predicted the 43-year-old.

After all, the top nation started the tournament with a surprising 2-0 loss and their first ever World Cup defeat against Latvia. The fact that Canada is less prominent than usual due to the special circumstances of the World Cup could also benefit Germany. "The North Americans may have more question marks than usual, the players are a bit more unknown," said Söderholm of the German press agency, and Seider confirmed: "We go in with full of anticipation. We don't want to hide. The Latvians have shown us how to do it . Now it's our turn. "

In the past, Germans had often started with the intention not to lose too much - and that went wrong, like the desolate 0:10 in 2015 in Prague. The last time Germany managed a World Cup coup against Canada with the famous 5: 1 in 1996 in Vienna. The captain at the time was Dieter Hegen, and Peter Draisaitl was one of the goal scorers. His son Leon Draisaitl, currently one of the world's best players, has to do without the selection of the German Ice Hockey Federation in Riga - and impresses without him with a whole range of different goalscorers.

The only 19-year-old World Cup debutant Lukas Reichel, who is considered a future NHL player, attracted particular attention with his remarkable solo against Norway. "Lukas came in very well at the same level," praised Söderholm. Reichel already has five scorer points, as does his Berlin team-mate Marcel Noebels. The storm series from the German champion Eisbären with Leo Pföderl as third harmonizes as brilliantly as in the entire DEL season. The Berliners now want to transfer the self-confidence of winning the title to the World Cup. "You can see that they played together all year," explained Söderholm: "You can say that they picked up where they left off in the DEL."

The fact that the Finn relies on building blocks from players who know each other from the clubs and also puts Mannheim-based Matthias Plachta, Stefan Loibl and Markus Eisenschmid together has paid off so far. "If you know where your teammate is, the game goes faster than usual," said Söderholm. Plachta confirmed: "You know each other, you know how to deal with each other. I think that is the reason why we are set up this way."

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