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Germany upsets USA in Worlds opener

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers forward Ryan Potulny, right, battles for the puck with teammate Eric Nystrom and Germany's Constantin Braun at the opening game of the 2010 World Championship in Gelsenkirchen, Germany May 7, 2010. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
It's not often that 77,000 sports fans gather to cheer on their home team to a surprise victory, and Friday marked the very first time that it happened at a hockey game.

A world-record 77,803 fans packed the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany for the opening game of the 2010 World Hockey Championship, and thanks to a 2-1 upset win by Germany over USA, they walked away happy.

The astonishing attendance figure eclipses the previous record of 74,554 set in 2001 by Michigan State and the University of Michigan, and is over 20,000 more than the 57,167 who attended 2003's Heritage Classic in Edmonton.

Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe attended the game with Team Canada GM Mark Messier, and both men were awed by the event.

"It was incredible atmosphere," Lowe said. "I've never been to a stadium with 77,000 people. Commonwealth (Stadium, in Edmonton) has 55, but this was indoors as well so it was very loud. The Germans, they sing all the time so it was a festive time for them, especially winning in OT.

"It was a great event, probably very good for German hockey. I'm glad we went just to experience it."

Messier agreed.

"European fans make it quite interesting from a fan perspective," the former Oiler added."The view was excellent considering how many people they fit in there. It was pretty amazing."

In addition to providing a memorable event for fans, the game no doubt left an impression on the German and American players. For young Oilers Ryan Potulny & Taylor Chorney, the game was an imposing introduction to World Championship competition.

"It was surreal," Chorney said on the bus after the game. "We knew there was going to be a big crowd because we practiced there the day before, but once it was completely packed with people, it was insane. There wasn't a seat open in the whole place."

Potulny added that the party got started far before puck drop.

It was loud enough I couldn't decide if it was the loud speaker or the crowd. - Ryan Potulny
"I walked out there right when we arrived, before I had even changed into my gear, just to look in the rink and see what was going on," he recalled. "One whole standing area at the end of the arena was already full of fans, screaming and getting into the game. It was loud enough I couldn't decide if it was the loud speaker or the crowd."

Potulny registered four shots, including three in the third period, for Team USA, while Chorney tallied two penalty minutes for high-sticking in the second.

Germany's Michael Wolf opened the scoring 5:20 into the middle frame, but Ryan Carter evened things up 8:28 into the third. Only 21 seconds into overtime, Felix Schutz got the game-winner for the Germans.

While the result wasn't ideal for USA, Potulny said the team will carry their strong third period into the next game, which goes down Monday vs. Denmark.

"We started maybe a little slow, were worried to make mistakes, but we turned it around and got a lot better and took it to them in the third," he said. "It's one of those nights where shots aren't going in, and in overtime it just goes into the net.

"It's a tough break, but I think we'll take the experience from tonight and the way we played and we'll be alright. I'm not too worried about the loss based on how we got better as the game went on."

The World Championship continues Saturday with three games on the schedule, including Canada vs. Italy at 8:15am MT.

Oilers fans shouldn't get their hopes up about seeing prospect Jordan Eberle in action, however: Messier confirmed that the Team Canada alternate will only play in the tournament if another player gets injured.

Visit regularly throughout the two-week tournament for updates on the Oilers in Germany.

(all times mountain)

Friday, May 7:

Germany 2
- USA 1 OT
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

Saturday, May 8:

5 - Italy 1
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos  | Highlights

Sunday, May 9:

Sweden vs. Norway - 12:15 p.m.
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

Monday, May 10:

USA vs. Denmark - 8:15 a.m.
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

Canada vs. Latvia - 12:15 p.m.
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

Tuesday, May 11:

Sweden vs. France - 12:15 p.m.
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

Wednesday, May 12:

USA vs. Finland - 12:15 p.m.
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

Canada vs. Switzerland - 12:15 p.m.
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

Thursday, May 13:

Sweden vs. Czech Republic - 12:15 p.m.
Gamesheet | Recap | Photos | Highlights

======END OF ROUND ROBIN======


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