Although weary from jet lag, Germany found the strength to beat China 4-2 Saturday evening in front of nearly 700 fans at the Morden Recreation Centre.
After the German women arrived in Canada Friday afternoon, they headed to Morden, an hour southwest of Winnipeg, to take part in the exhibition matchup with the Chinese.
Germany got goals from Bettina Evers, Monika Bittner, Michaela Lanzl, and Maritta Becker, while Rui Sun and Jing Zhang replied for China.
Germany struggled to find a rhythm till late in the game. “We were a little nervous and our organization wasn’t great,” said German Head Coach Peter Kathan.
However, Lanzl, one of the three German players that play full-time in North America, came up big with the late game-winner for the Germans.
“It was hard. I think the team was tired from all the traveling,” said Lanzl, who plays for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. “But it was our first exhibition game, so I think we played well.”
Although jet lag wasn’t a factor for Lanzl, she was skating off the rust, not having played in two weeks since her UMD Bulldogs finished second in the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four. She could have used some rest after going through two overtime games before falling 4-1 to Wisconsin in the title match.
In the first period, neither team managed a goal, but both goalies were tested early on.
China’s Yao Shi faced a three-on-one only 1:28 into the game when one of her defencemen lost her footing and coughed up the puck at the blueline. She caught a break when the German team bobbled the puck, and was able to reach back and grab the puck before it crossed the goal line.
Then just over 30 seconds later, Ben Zhang was sprung loose on a breakaway, but could not put it past German netminder Viona Harrer.
Germany got the first goal of the game with only 49 seconds left in the second period, as Evers beat Shi short-side on her blocker from the faceoff dot to the left of the net.
Bittner netted Germany’s second at 8:16 of the third period after capitalizing on a failed clearing attempt by Shi. The Chinese goalie tried to send it up the middle but hit Bittner right in the chest, and she gained control and slid it into an empty net to make it 2-0 for the Germans.
China then caught a break when Germany took a couple of penalties, and had a 5-on-3 man advantage. Rui Sun gobbled up a big rebound from goalie Jennifer Harss (who split duties in net with Harrer), and found the back of the net to pull China within one at 12:03.
Lanzl scored Germany's third goal and eventual game-winner with just under two minutes remaining, on a play very similar to Bittner’s goal. The Chinese made another gaffe whilst clearing the zone, and Lanzl sealed the victory for Germany.
Zhang scored late to make it interesting, but Germany added an empty-netter to maintain the two-goal margin.
Harrer and Harss faced 27 shots altogether in goal for Germany, while Shi faced 33 in the loss for China.
The long German heritage in the Morden community was reflected in the attendance, but both squads received cheers for their hard work.