Last year, Germany placed first at the Division I Group A World Championships, were promoted to the top division, and punched their ticket to Plymouth.
Germany is coming off some disappointment. Just last month, they missed out on making the Olympics after they lost to Japan in the qualification round. They’ve made a few changes to their roster and hope to hold on to their spot in the top division by avoiding relegation.
After the qualification round, Germany decided to cut one of their forwards and bring three additional defenders. Their strangely (im)balanced roster now has 10 forwards and 10 defenders on it.
Who to watch out for
Starting goaltender Jennifer Harss and back-up Ivonne Schroder are both veterans of the team. Harss first played for Germany at the 2005 World Championships as a 17 year old. She played three years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and is more than capable of stealing a game. For the last four years, she’s played with a tier-3 German men’s league team, ERC Sonthofen 1999.
Defender Tanja Eisenschmid is one of their best options on the blue-line. She currently plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps. Before that, she played for the University of North Dakota. She shoots a lot (she had 10 shots in three games at Olympic qualifiers), gets a lot of power play time, and is the team’s highest scorer from the blue-line.
Up front, Germany has a few capable scorers. Laura Kluge is one of their young talents. As a 19 year old last year, she led Germany (and the tournament) in scoring at the Division I Championships with 9 points in five games and was named team MVP. This year, she played with Canadian Jennifer Wakefield on Linkoping HC in Sweden.
Kluge and her likely linemates, Manuela Anwander and Andrea Lanzl, are the Germans’ greatest scoring threats. Anwander has been a staple on the team since 2008, when she debuted as a 16 year old. She tied with Kluge for the tournament’s top scorer last year. Lanzl, the final member of this line, has shown a deft scoring touch with her team in the German league, ERC Ingolstadt. Last season, she was second in the league in scoring.
One of the bigger stories about Germany might be who will not be representing the country in Plymouth. In the past decade, we’ve seen offensive stars emerge and lead hockey development in their countries, from Russia’s Iya Gavrilova to Finland’s Michelle Karvinen to Switzerland’s Lara Stalder.
For Germany, that kind of talent may be on the horizon. The two youngest players in Germany’s top women’s league are 14 year old twins Lilli and Luisa Welcke. They were second and third on their team in scoring. Older sister (and defender) Lea was fourth on the team in scoring. This year, Germany will be fighting to avoid relegation but it may not be long until they can keep up with the Finns and Russians.