International Ice Hockey Federation

Kahun loves underdog role

Kahun loves underdog role

Three-time WJC veteran touts German work ethic

Published 28.12.2014 09:53 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Kahun loves underdog role
MONTREAL, CANADA - DECEMBER 27: Germany's Dominik Kahun #21 stickhandles the puck away from Canada's Madison Bowey #4 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Would you be shocked to learn that Dominik Kahun was on the ice at the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany – when he was just 14 years old?

To clarify, he was in a slightly different role than today. Kahun was one of the kids assigned to clean the ice in Mannheim, where he played his U16 hockey.

This year, the 19-year-old is a first-line forward for Germany in Montreal, where he’s playing his third consecutive World Juniors. The Germans came ninth last time.

Even though they lost their 2015 opener 4-0 to host Canada, that hardly dimmed Kahun’s enthusiasm about suiting up in front of a crowd of 12,733. His current DEL club, EHC Munchen, drew 5,133 for its last playoff game in 2013-14.

“It was a great experience for us to get it going,” said Kahun. “It’s just an unreal feeling, playing in front of a lot of fans.”

Standing just 178 cm and 78 kg, he’s demonstrated his speed and stickhandling prowess on many different stages lately. He played the last two seasons with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, notching 71 points in 101 league games.

Kahun, therefore, is familiar with Team Canada stars like Max Domi (London Knights) and Connor McDavid (Erie Otters), who he believes will be the “next Crosby.” Before facing the host nation, what did he tell his German teammates to watch for?

“I think they know they’re pretty good players,” said Kahun. “We talked a bit before the game that those special guys, we have to keep an eye on them. We didn’t do badly. 4-0 is pretty good for us.”

Kahun added that German goalie Kevin Reich, who faced 31 shots, played “maybe his best game of the season” against Canada, and that Germany’s work ethic will be its ace in the hole going forward.

There is, however, one big hole in the German roster. The Edmonton Oilers, who sit last overall in the NHL with 21 points, elected not to release rookie forward Leon Draisaitl in his last year of World Junior eligibility. Draisaitl, the highest-drafted German star ever (#3 overall in 2014), has two goals and five assists in 35 NHL games.

“It’s sad, because I played with him the last three years,” Kahun said. “Even in Mannheim, before we went to Canada, we played together all the time. So it’s pretty bad that he didn’t come. We have a good chemistry. But I play well with [Frederik] Tiffels too, and we’ll see [how it goes] as the tournament goes on.”

There is reason for optimism. At last year’s World Juniors in Malmo, Sweden, Kahun teamed up with Tiffels to make a little history. They combined for five points as Germany defeated the Czech Republic for the first time ever, 3-0. (In an ironic twist, Kahun was born in Plzen, a Czech town, and grew up idolizing Jaromir Jagr.)

Another German player who made history recently is Tobias Rieder of the Phoenix Coyotes. He set a new NHL rookie record with two shorthanded goals in 58 seconds in a 5-2 win over Edmonton on December 1. Elated by the news, Kahun sent a congratulatory text to his 2013 World Junior teammate.

Looking to the not-so-distant future, how excited is Kahun about the possibility of suiting up at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship? That tournament will be co-hosted by Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France. And this Deutschland dangler definitely wouldn’t be cleaning the ice there.

“It’s my goal to play there in Germany,” he said. “The atmosphere will be really good. I just hope I can play there.”

For now, the plan is for the U20 squad to avoid the horrors of a three-game relegation series at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. And in Montreal’s Group A, that will likely hinge on the result of one game on Tuesday, December 30.

“Everybody already knew before the tournament it’s the game against the Slovaks,” Kahun said. “When we play the U.S., and our last game will be Finland, we are still the underdog. But we just have to play hard and make it hard for the opponents, I guess, and play our game. For the Slovaks we are still a little bit the underdog, but we’ve beaten them a lot of times already. Maybe we can do it again.”


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