A few days ago the memories came up again.

That afternoon in April when Germany's national ice hockey players were sitting in front of their packed bags at the federal performance center in Füssen.

The next day it should go to Canada for the World Cup.

But then: a short-term meeting, a devastating news.

The Canadian authorities had canceled the tournament due to the local pandemic. Instead of going to the airport enthusiastically, we went home “sad, disappointed and frustrated”, as captain Julia Zorn wrote on Twitter. All the training of the past few months, all the hardships were in vain - while the men's World Cup was taking place.

Last week, the selection of the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) was back in Füssen. In the meantime, a new World Cup date had been found at the end of August. So the team had prepared again for weeks, now the bags were packed again. On the last day they had “joked that the team manager from Gaudi should invite them to the team meeting again,” says Captain Zorn. But this time the plane took off to Calgary, on site it went into individual quarantine for five days before the only preparatory game against Denmark on Wednesday evening, which the German women won 4: 3 after a penalty shootout. The first group game is on Saturday (8:00 p.m.) against Hungary, followed by Denmark, the Czech Republic and Japan.

Nobody really knows what the DEB selection can expect.

The hierarchy in women's ice hockey is actually quite clear: Canada, the United States and Finland here, the rest there. But how is that distributed in Calgary?

Hard to say.

The leagues did not play regularly, there were hardly any international matches for months, and when they did, it was tests.

"It should look good"

The last competitive game of the Germans dates from February 2020, other nations are not looking better. You heard from them "a little something, but in the end everything is a big surprise bag," says Zorn. In addition, for the first time the World Cup will not rise at the end of the season, but at the beginning. "This is new territory for all of us, we've never had a World Cup in August," says defender Anna Reich. Which, according to national coach Thomas Schädler, does not change the ambitions: "We want to go to the quarter-finals."

Schadler has been in the position since the end of May - and has already changed a few things. Like men's national coach Toni Söderholm, he also wants to let ice hockey be played, not just “thrashing away the window, it should look good,” says Schädler. The players like it. “A system of target possession is one where the coach says, I trust you to do it. And who doesn't like to hear that, ”says Captain Zorn. However, you do not hear anything as big as the men who even talked about the title before their World Cup. “Then we'd be quite full of our mouths. But I'm not saying that this will never be the case in the future, you can see the development, ”says Anna Reich.

The U 18s recently got promoted to the A-WM, something is coming, says national coach Schädler.

The girls who play with the boys in the lower age groups also benefited from the improved youth promotion in the clubs.

But at some point it will be over, and there is no separate U-20 league for women.

Those who did not make it to adults as a teenager usually stop.

He couldn't blame any player for that, says Schädler, whose biggest concern is therefore “the breadth”.

The selection for the national team is limited.

Especially since women in Germany cannot earn anything with ice hockey.

After all, 16 players are sports soldiers, most of them have to work on the side.

And if a World Cup is then postponed, that creates further problems.

Two players who would have been there in May have now had to cancel.

If the national coach has his way, the current eighth place in the world rankings should still not be the end.

Not only a decent World Cup, but also good Olympic Games in spring would be essential for this.

But the Germans are not yet sure of their starting place for Beijing.

The qualification rises in November in Füssen.

And Schädler makes no secret of the fact that this is the most important thing this year.

“That doesn't mean that we don't care about the World Cup.

But the highlight is the Olympic qualification, there is also funding. ”The players see it similarly.

But for them it's not about money: After they weren't there in 2018, this time the “lifelong dream” should work, says Zorn: “Olympia is something magical.” But still far away.