Tuesday, November 30

Jungadler Mannheim: dreams built on ice

The Adler Mannheim are the talent factory in German ice hockey. Because of the young eagles recently several players made it into the NHL, the best ice hockey league in the world. A visit to the dream factory.

Going out on the weekend, having an exuberant birthday party or just going through the night – that’s probably what most 18-year-olds do. It is different with Malte Krenzlin. He plays ice hockey for the young eagles Mannheim, the talent factory in German ice hockey. Malte wants to become a professional, but: The path to the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) or even the National Hockey League in the USA (NHL) is tough. “Of course it is difficult to deal with the pressure. But we are all burned for it,” he tells SWR Sport.

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There are enough role models, because many great careers began on the ice in Mannheim. Tim Stützle and Moritz Seider, for example, have made the leap to the NHL and are currently causing a sensation there. Seider, who won the German championship with the Adler in 2019 and was then drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, is even rookie of the month for October. “The two are absolute role models,” reveals head coach Sven Valenti, who used to be a professional himself and therefore doesn’t just give the talents in Mannheim advice on ice hockey.

Tapen, Wie Stützle

But the trends are set by those who made it from Mannheim to the NHL. “Everyone has to tape the racket like Tim Stützle,” says Valenti. “That’s in right now.” It doesn’t make a difference in training or play, the coach assures – but: It’s something special. And so, before the training session, the U20 players sit in the dressing room and wrap tape around the tip of the blade, i.e. the part with which the puck is played. Then another strip lengthways – the “Stützle-Tape” is ready.

Malte Krenzlin wants to become a professional ice hockey player.

Beautiful Sports

Krenzlin and his teammates are following closely how their role models are doing in the NHL. The topic is in the cabin almost every morning. Then they talk about how many points there were this time. “And then the videos that are available on the Internet are shown around,” says Krenzlin, who is the captain of the U20. But only at least those will make it into the highlight clips later – for most talents it ends earlier.

The pressure increases

“That’s just the way it is. The higher it goes, the narrower the tip and the selection gets bigger and bigger,” said Coach Valenti. The conversations are not easy, even for the experienced trainer. He has children of his own and knows that dreams will burst. Not just with the talents. Malte Krenzlin hopes that it will be different with him. The defender currently has a development license and is therefore allowed to play in the DNL, ​​i.e. the junior league, for the young eagles, and in the DEL2 for the Heilbronner Falken.

On his excursion to the professionals, Krenzlin managed to surprise. Falken trainer Jason Morgan received special praise for this. He attested that the 18-year-old had “great potential”. And Krenzlin himself is getting better and better. Before jumping into the DEL2, he was warned about the speed, but that is not the greatest challenge for him. “Any mistake in the game is punished immediately and is almost always a goal,” he said.

Excursion to the professionals

The pressure, the hardness of the sport, then hits ice cold. And yet Krenzlin has the big dream of making the leap into the DEL or even the NHL. Because that’s what he started for once. The man from Mannheim was just seven years old at the time. A visit to the game of eagles made sure that the spark jumped. “I said to my parents: ‘I want to try it out, go skating a bit.’ Then I just went on the ice, “he says.

A little bit of ice skating quickly turned into more. The love for ice hockey and the conviction to give up a lot for it. And he’s not alone in that. “On the one hand, we are very popular with children and young people in Mannheim who come to ice hockey. And of course we are also the top address in Germany when it comes to realizing the dream of profit,” said Valenti.

Luck and money

Because the eagles dominate: There has been no other junior champion since 2012. The boys and girls who stand on the ice and fight for their dreams know that too. Like Malte Krenzlin. “My goal is to be happy with the sport,” he says, and adds: “And to earn my money with it.”


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