»Roller coaster, carousel and ghost train, all in one« (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

“In the evening you had problems falling asleep and processing it all” – Danny from the Birken in the game of his life (25.2.2018)

On November 21, it was exactly 1,000 days ago that the German national ice hockey team caused a sensation. On February 25, 2018, 3.65 million people sat in front of the television in the FRG early in the morning to watch the Olympic final in Pyeongchang against Russia live. The 4: 3 against Canada had one afternoon alone at the ARD more than 5.3 million viewers watched. For the local puck sport, odds were previously unthinkable.

“The enthusiasm was really crazy. At home I was recognized on the street and people would talk to me often. And something like that in Munich, where sport is only football and nothing comes after Bayern for a long, long time, «remembers Danny from the Birken in an interview jW. The goalkeeper was the main support in six of seven matches in the 1.83 meter wide housing, had celebrated his 33rd birthday ten days before the showdown and was named the best in his field at the end of the tournament.

“These memories are incredibly good,” admits today’s goalkeeper for the Munich team of a well-known shower manufacturer. “It’s balm, not just for me – and right now.” With which from the birch trees alludes to the badly battered German ice hockey league (DEL). Because of the pandemic, nobody knows when the league will officially start and whether there will even be a bully for the next championship. “That’s very sad. I don’t want to think about it at all. What we have developed over the years, the popularity of our sport, the boom among youngsters after the Olympic success, nothing more is to be seen. «He himself has just been» lucky in misfortune «and was able to relax his leg injury after an operation in August recover without being absent from his team. “Maybe I’ll be fit when the DEL starts again. I would prefer it to start in the league beforehand. “

The new popularity was achieved in February 2018. The rock-hard program with seven games within eleven days was like a run of the mill for the team of national coach Marco Sturm. In the group two defeats against Finland (2: 5) and Sweden (0: 1) as well as a win against Norway (2: 1 in overtime) – that was within the bounds of expectation. Victories over Switzerland (2: 1 in overtime) and Sweden (4: 3 after extra time) no longer exist. Then, after beating Canada, suddenly the final. Some people had to pinch themselves there.

“Physically and mentally it was damn exhausting, almost brutal. In the evenings you had problems falling asleep and processing it all, ”says Danny from the Birken today. The tournament stress cost him a lot of head hair. “I’d have preferred a couple of gray ones.”

In the final he was still there: The goalkeeper and his people in front of captain Marcel Goc solved some tricky situations with concentration. For example, when they fell behind against the »Sbornaja« just a second before the first third break – and despite everything 39 minutes later they led 3-2.

Seconds later, exactly 56 before the final siren, the “Olympic athletes from Russia” came to equalize, also outnumbered. In the subsequent overtime, the huge favorite scored the decisive goal after 9:40 minutes through Kirill Kaprisow. “As soon as the puck flew past me, I knew straight away that it was over,” says the man who was closest to this scene on the ice. “At that moment I knew: now the gold medal that we had in our hands shortly before the end is definitely over. That moment was like a stab in the heart. “

The finale was “something like roller coaster, carousel and ghost train ride, all rolled into one.” Still with a good outcome: After the Olympics, children and young people flocked to the clubs, and many are still on the ice today. When it’s not Corona.

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