The mixed World Cup preparations don’t seem to matter to the public. Expectations for last year’s German ice hockey vice world champions are huge. The backpacks that the current World Cup players brought with them when they boarded the bus to Ostrava in the Czech Republic in Weißwasser are correspondingly heavy.

“I’ve heard that the expectations are high. That’s true, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by me,” said national coach Harold Kreis. “I can also understand that from our fans, who saw an incredible World Cup from our team. But we can’t claim: We’ll get to the final and win gold.”

Hardly a day goes by when the district or its players are not asked, after losing the World Cup final in Tampere last year, whether they can make it big this time in Prague. “We won’t be wishful thinking about gold,” Kreis made it clear before leaving for Ostrava, where Germany will start against Olympic third-placed Slovakia on Friday (4:20 p.m./ProSieben and MagentaSport).

Clearly defined goal

The official World Cup goal is, as always: quarter-finals. “We’ll look further after that,” said the national coach, who has 15 runners-up from 2023 back. NHL top defenseman Moritz Seider from Detroit is missing this time because he is currently negotiating a new, high-paying contract with the Red Wings and the German Ice Hockey Association was not insured against the risks of participating in the World Cup. NHL keeper Philipp Grubauer from Seattle is eager to experience an ice hockey fairytale like last year himself.

“The maximum sporting success. In this case the gold medal,” said the 32-year-old in an interview with “” about his personal World Cup goals. If everything goes well, the DEB can also announce that NHL striker Lukas Reichel will take part in the World Cup in the coming days. The additional NHL upgrade compared to last year and statements like those from Grubauer are fueling the increased expectations. “It is absolutely understandable to share the desire and euphoria,” said Kreis.

To be honest, there aren’t that many reasons for great euphoria. Kreis’ coaching team still has a lot of work to do until Friday. In preparation there were only three wins from eight test games. The 4:3 after extra time on Monday in Weißwasser against World Cup outsiders France was good for morale, but also revealed some weak points. Individual failures, inadequate utilization of chances and a power play that is anything but suitable for the World Cup are cause for concern.

Last year, too, the start was bumpy

But at that point, Kreis and his players are pretty relaxed. “If we take the momentum from the last third into the tournament and start like that, then things are looking pretty good,” said Grubauer. And Kreis said: “There were a few individual mistakes. Better now than at the beginning of the tournament. We’re going to Ostrava with a good feeling. That’s always important for morale.” It also helps the 65-year-old experienced trainer to look at the past year, when everything didn’t go well at the beginning. There were no supposed goal getters in the attack, the start was bumpy with three defeats, and the team had to find itself first.

This time too, the start is against the supposedly stronger teams Slovakia, USA and Sweden. This time too, the team still has to find its feet – it was only on the weekend before the dress rehearsal against France that five DEL champion players from the Eisbären Berlin and North American professional Maksymilian Szuber joined. “Basically it’s a new tournament. We can’t try to copy the last World Cup. It’s a different team. We have to let it grow naturally, organically,” said NHL striker Nico Sturm from the San Jose Sharks.

On Wednesday, the DEB team is scheduled to go onto the World Cup ice in Ostrava for the first time to train. There is still a lot to do, but confidence is growing. “The last World Cup is over, the preparation is over,” said captain Moritz Müller. “We’re looking forward to the first game of this World Cup on Friday.”