As expected, the test of strength with four major ice hockey powers brought a clear insight for Austria’s U20 team at the World Cup: the gap to the absolute top of the world is huge. In the “bubble” of Edmonton there was only a small partial success against the USA (0:11), Sweden (0: 4), Russia (1: 7) and the Czech Republic (0: 7), with goalkeeper Sebastian Wraneschitz but also a big one Winner.
It was the fourth time that Austria took part in a U20 World Cup in which only ten teams take part. The hoped-for first victory was clearly out of reach. It comes as no surprise to Roger Bader that there was nothing to gain for his team. “ Such results are normal, the quality is much higher. We had no chance, but had some good periods against overpowering opponents,” said the team boss.
The fact that his team only met top nations in preliminary group B did the rest. “ It was a bit unfortunate with four teams in the top 6. I think we’re not that far away from Germany, Switzerland or Slovakia,” said Bader, referring to Group A.
Maybe the red-white-red juniors, who formed the youngest team with Slovakia, can prove it next year. Since there is no relegation this year due to the corona pandemic, the Austrians will also be in Edmonton and Red Deer in 2021, then hopefully with spectators at the A World Cup. Eleven players can return and their experience should help them this year. But more is needed.
Getting physically stronger, gaining match experience in strong leagues and expanding the national team program are essential for Bader in order to be able to approach the top. The Swiss reported that a talent from his home country played around 50 games against the top nations between the U16 and the U20, while an Austrian colleague hardly played one. “The more you play against such good opponents, the more you learn to adapt the game speed and intensity,” said Bader.
It is just as important for him that “players play in a league where they are constantly challenged at a high level. That is the path where you develop. You can’t do magic”. 16 players in the 24-man squad come from local clubs, seven have played in the ICE Hockey League this season, but with Jacob Pfeffer and Clemens Krainz (both Graz99ers) only two are more or less regular.
Sebastian Wraneschitz was on the ice six times for the Vienna Capitals and was now doing a lot of self-promotion in Canada. The 18-year-old was under fire like no other goalkeeper at this World Cup (194 shots on goal in three games), but was always focused and prevented even greater defeats with many good saves. “The little-known Austrian goalkeeper became a sensation after great performances against two of the great powers,” wrote the experts from “The Hockey News” after the Sweden game. Since only 18 years old, Wraneschitz can also be there again next year.
For captain Marco Rossi, the tournament was the farewell to young ice hockey. The 19-year-old from Vorarlberg travels to St. Paul to fight for a place in the squad for the NHL starting on January 13th at the Minnesota Wild training camp from January 4th. The center got a foretaste of what awaits them in the future. “ It was very special for me, it was my first time playing against such top nations. It was a great experience against the top players from the other teams,” explained Rossi.