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World junior championship: Jubilant Germans throw support behind Slovakia

German goaltender Marvin Cupper

MALMO, Sweden — It's been a long time since the Germans heard their national anthem play in the round robin at the world junior championship.

So, for them to hear it after a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic on Monday, is a moment they won't soon forget. It was the first time in their history that Germany beat the Czechs at the under-20 tournament.

"It's not that many times you hear our anthem at a world championship," said German forward Dominik Kahun. "It's unbelievable.

"I just enjoyed it. My parents are here."

In a strange twist, Kahun, was actually born in the Czech Republic, but was raised in Germany and represents them nationally. The German players in the mixed zone were jubilant and lingered around to make sure they spoke to every reporter who wanted to talk to them about their stunning victory.

"Everybody is so happy right now and celebrating," said German defenceman Tim Bender, who plays for the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights. "We wanted to come to the quarter-final and surprise some guys. We had to battle hard for it and we got our chance right now."

Before Canada's later game against the Slovaks, members of the German team were in the concourse posing for pictures and hugging friends and family members who had made the trek to Malmo.

The Czech Republic was coming off a shocking win of their own after beating Canada 5-4 in a shootout. Czech forward Radek Faksa, who plays for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers, said he didn't believe his team was still riding the high of beating Canada.

"(Germany) didn't have anything to lose," said Faksa. "We didn't score so it's hard to win.

"I know that they are very dangerous. Myself, I don't like playing against them - they are very dangerous, they skate hard - it's always hard to play against a team like that."

Germany was backstopped by Marvin Cupper who made 40 saves for his first win of the tournament. The goalie, who is used to facing a lot of shots in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Shawinigan Cataractes and was busy in his team's Boxing Day loss to Canada, made a number of acrobatic saves to keep the Czechs at bay.

"(The Czechs) thought they beat Canada so they will just destroy Germany today," said Kahun, who plays for the Ontario Hockey League's Sudbury Wolves. "But we showed them they can't.

"We hope the Slovaks beat the Czechs tomorrow so we can do to the quarter-finals. It's unbelievable."

Germany had previously been blown out by Canada, Slovakia and Team USA in Group A. This time, however, Bender said the team was more prepared.

"If you don't play 100 per cent you will lose and that's what happened," said Bender of their previous losses. "We were 100 per cent ready today."

If Slovakia beats the Czechs on Tuesday, Germany will avoid the relegation round -- a stunning turn of events for the young Germans. After the game, almost all of the players were throwing their support behind the Slovaks.

"We hope they lose," said an excited Bender. "I'm cheering for Slovakia for sure!"

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