Vikings conquer annual military hockey competition
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 16, 2019
GARMISCH, Germany — The Wiesbaden Vikings defeated the Bayern Rangers 3-2 in a hard-fought championship match Saturday at the Alpine Classic Hockey Tournament.
The championship game came at the end of the 56-match, three-day tournament, where the Vikings routinely used their solid defense to shut down their opponents.
“We played very smart on defense and made it hard for the other guys to score,” Wiesbaden coach and player Luke Rose said. “Our plan was to keep a solid defense, and chip away at the other teams, and it worked.”
Wiesbaden started the tournament relatively slowly but managed to earn the third seed in the playoffs.
The championship game was fast-paced, with both teams putting pressure on the others’ goalies and making many shots on goal.
“We didn’t have as deep of a bench as Bayern, but each of our players gave their all, and really put it all out there,” Rose said. “It was a really fast game, and they (Bayern) have a lot of really fast skaters, so it was a hard battle for us.”
The Vikings’ Alex Moeller scored two of their three goals. Michael Soucy scored their last goal, just sneaking the puck in at the top of the net at the end of the game.
But slick scoring wasn’t the only thing helping out the Vikings; the Rangers rough play style put many key players into the penalty box throughout the game.
“Sometimes we were our own worst enemies,” Rangers’ coach and player Kyle Gregory said. “We play rough, high-tempo, in-your-face hockey. It’s part of our strategy.”
The Rangers had three players in the penalty box within the first five minutes of the game, due to rough play, and continued getting players sent to the box throughout.
“That definitely affected us a lot, and we had a hard time getting things going because of it,” Gregory said.
“We had our share of penalties too,” Rose said. “But I think the referees called it well. When we’re all trying so hard, it can get pretty aggressive out there.”
Rose said many of his players are soldiers from the northern part of the United States, where hockey is a way of life.
“We have guys from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and even Canada, which helps,” Rose said. “One thing about being in the military is, you get stationed somewhere, and you don’t know what access you’re going to have to your passions. Not everybody likes hockey, but once you’re a hockey player, you’re a hockey player forever.”