Hockey World Cup: These two old acquaintances want to torpedo Switzerland

Harold Kreis (center) surrounded himself with the services of Serge Aubin (right) and Alex Sulzer (left).

IMAGO/ActionPictures

Switzerland is favorite in the quarter-final of the World Cup against Germany. Even widely favorite, according to the bookmakers, who estimate a Swiss qualification for the semi-finals at 78% probability.

But the reality on the ice is sometimes quite different, and white-cross hockey players are very well placed to attest to this. Have they not faltered four times at this stage of the competition against the “Mannschaft” (2018 Olympics and 2010, 2021 and 2023 WC)?

Like last year, Patrick Fischer will find an old acquaintance opposite him: Harold Kreis. The former coach of Davos, Chur, Lugano, Zurich (between 2002 and 2008) then Zug (2014-2018) has taken over the reins of the German selection since 2023.

Silver medal in 2023

It is an understatement to say that “Harry” Kreis is successful with the German team: the 65-year-old technician took the national team to the final of the last World Cup in Finland, lifting the “Mannschaft” to 5th place in the IIHF rankings, two ranks ahead of Switzerland, which it eliminated.

Harold Kreis (right) coached Zug between 2014 and 2018.

Andy Mueller/freshfocus

Enough to ensure the praise of the national press. This Tuesday, “Bild” devotes a long article to the former Zug coach, with a title in a nod to Switzerland, Thursday’s opponent in the quarter-finals. “Here is the banking secret of the national coach,” writes the most widely distributed German daily.

The formula could have been put in the plural, since Harold Kreis is not the only factor in Germany’s success in the Czech tournament. “Bild” thus salutes the merit of another old acquaintance of our championship: Serge Aubin.

Three titles in Berlin

After his unsuccessful stint at Zurich as coach, where he was replaced by Arno Del Curto in January 2019 after a few months in office, the former Genève-Servette, Bienne and Fribourg-Gottéron striker enjoyed much more success in Berlin.

Serge Aubin had missed his time on the ZSC Lions bench.

Serge Aubin had missed his time on the ZSC Lions bench.

Patrick Straub/freshfocus

Arriving in 2019 in the capital, the 49-year-old Canadian led the “Eisbären” to the title three times: in 2021, in 2022 and in 2024. He was enlisted by “Harry” Kreis to take care of the attackers and the power play during the world championship. With undeniable success, since the Germans have the best power play in Group B, even ahead of Sweden.

What is Kreis banking secrecy? According to “Bild”, it lies in a quasi-scientific preparation. The German coach uses video a lot, in order to assign ratings to the different players to then compose the most homogeneous team.

“We would have 20 power-play players”

A formula that is well understood in the locker room, according to captain Moritz Müller. “We cannot make a national team based on the statistics of goals or assists,” confirms the Cologne player. Otherwise, we have twenty players for the power play. The most important thing is to get roles accepted.”

As proof that it works, the major German daily highlights the fantastic performances of the 4th line, made up of second-rate DEL players (Parker Tuomie, Maxi Kastner and Alex Ehl). Will that be enough against the Swiss NHL armada? Response Thursday afternoon in Ostrava.

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