REGINA — Alexander Oblinger is a shy and soft-spoken man off the ice. The German forward prefers to do most of his talking on the ice.
The Czech Republic found this out the hard way when Oblinger netted three goals against them at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge — including successful spinarama backhand shot while falling to the ice.
Oblinger hoped he would be able to continue his good fortune, but also deliver a win for the winless German side.
“I am going to give it all I’ve got, and see what the outcome is,” Oblinger said.
His linemate, Andre Huebscher, was disappointed Germany dropped a 5-3 decision to the Czechs, but thought a better effort was possible.
“We have to check more in the next game. We would like to win some games this year and be better than German teams from the past,” Huebscher said. “I don’t think we won any games last year, but hopefully that changes.”
For that to change, the Germans will have to shore up their defence, said coach Ralf Hoja.
“We performed very well (against the Czechs). We did a lot of work to score goals, but I am not so satisfied with our defensive work,” Hoja said. “We can practice it here, but we only meet as the German national team once a year.”
That means a lot of video analysis, drawing up plays and motivating players to buy into Hoja’s game plan in the short time they have.
“We have to be ready to play when the period starts. We are known to be slow-starters and (against the Czechs), we got the result we did because of it,” said Hoja, a three-time Under-17 team coach and 10-year veteran of the program.
The Germans are no strangers to Canada. Besides their trip to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the squad treks to Drummondville, Que., for an annual tournament.
“I like the bodychecking you see on the smaller ice,” Oblinger said through an interpreter. “I can use my size better.”
Like most Canadian teams, the Germans only had about a week to skate together in preparation for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. For much of the season, players are with club teams in a developmental league, much like Canadian players are.
Oblinger’s club team, Mannheim Eagles, is in first place in the German developmental league. Huebscher’s Kreefeld Penguins are in fifth place, and are likely bound for the playoffs.
Like Canadians, Oblinger shares a similar hockey dream.
“My primary goal is to play hockey in North America, maybe the NHL. That would be an über-dream,” Oblinger said.
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