To put it into perspective: Finland is third in the World Cup. Last year, Suomi took bronze in the third-place game against Russia. Austria’s juniors are therefore clearly outsiders. The good news: There will be no relegation this year either. The ÖEHV talents were also caught up in a corona case in their own team. In the group stage, it will also play against hosts Canada (Wednesday, 1:00 a.m.), the Czech Republic (Thursday, 10:30 p.m.), and on New Year’s Eve (8:00 p.m.) against Germany. The Germans are probably the opponent who is most likely within reach.
The team of head coach Marco Pewal wants to improve from game to game and to win the historic first victory against Germany. “We are the underdog. We’re starting against two really good opponents. We have to look at our game and want to implement what we have discussed and trained better from game to game, ”said Pewal in an interview with the APA – Austria Press Agency. The success leads “only over the defensive zone, because we have to play compactly”, emphasized the team boss. He wants to see his team “poisonous and cheeky”, with “respect, but without fear”.
“Our big goal is to beat Germany. It’s possible on a good day, when everything works for us, with a very good goalkeeping performance and of course with a bit of luck, ”said Pewal. In the previous year, a strong goalkeeping performance by Sebastian Wraneschitz was not enough for a success, despite a difficult season, the Viennese is the first goalkeeper this year too. However, the Germans have to do without their three best strikers with Tim Stützle, John-Jason Peterka and Lukas Reichel. Nevertheless, this does not change anything in the starting position for Pewal. “Germany still has a very strong squad, many of them have a leading role in the DEL.”
Pewal has learned the lessons of the previous year when it comes to putting the roster together. “We’re better and bigger at ice skating this year, so we can hold out against it. We have a better collective and have made sure that we can accelerate with four lines, ”he explained. Nevertheless, they have already paid attention to the future and next to Slovakia the youngest team in the World Cup. At the World Championships last year, the ÖEHV juniors had no chance. With four defeats and a goal difference of 1:29, there wasn’t much to gain for the Austrian team.
Due to the corona pandemic, there was no relegation back then, which is why local talent for the second time has the chance to present themselves to around 250 scouts on the world’s largest youth stage.First of all, striker Marco Kasper (17) one of ten players, who were there last year, and Vinzenz Rohrer. The Carinthian Kasper from the Swedish table leader Rögle is traded as a possible NHL first round draft in 2022, the Vorarlberger Rohrer from the Canadian junior club Ottawa 67’s also has good draft chances.
In the previous four participations in the U20 World Cup, which has been held since 1977, Austria has not managed to win in 17 games. The closest they got there was on January 3, 2004, when the ÖEHV selection led 2-1 thanks to a double by Thomas Vanek against Ukraine and conceded the equalizer in the finish.
Like a year ago, the U20 World Cup will take place in Alberta, Canada. Because no spectators were allowed at the turn of 2020/21 due to Corona, the tournament was awarded again to Edmonton (and Red Deer). This time, however, the fans are there. Rodgers Place, the new hall in Edmonton with a seating capacity of over 18,000, can be filled with up to 50 percent of the audience capacity.
9,000 fans are expected in the duel against Canada on Tuesday (local time). Their team boss Dave Cameron, who was the coach of the Vienna Capitals until last summer, has twelve first-round drafts in his squad, including defender Owen Power, who was number one in the draft last year. The Canadians are particularly excited about strikers Shane Wright, potential top pick in the coming year, and Connor Bedard, who experts will classify as possible number one in the 2023 draft. The Canadians want to dethrone the US boys who were successful last year.