Alexander Ovechkin may be the biggest name and the top draw at the 2010 ice hockey world championship in Germany. But the tournament in Germany has been filled with other NHL super stars showing why they are NHL super stars; a number of upsets; exciting games and a world record crowd.

The annual tournament started on Friday, May 7 with a world record crowd of 77,803 to watch Germany beat the United States 2-1 in overtime. The game was played at the German Bundesliga football club Schalke’s arena in Gelsenkirchen, and the attendance was even confirmed by a Guinness Records official on hand.

Germany’s win – which came on a goal just 21 seconds into overtime – was also historic for another reason as Deutschland has not knocked off Team USA at a world championship in 17 years.

“It felt more like a World Cup soccer game than a hockey game,” said Germany’s Sven Butenschön told the event’s website. “When you hear the roar of 80,000 people, it is a different noise.”

An even bigger surprise came Tuesday, May 11 when Norway fended off two goals by Jaromir Jagr for a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic. It was the first time the Norwegians had beaten the Czechs at the worlds or Olympics in 73 years. In the span of 18 games between those wins the Czechs out-scored Norway 91-19.

The United States fell victim to a second surprise in two games in losing 2-1 in overtime against Denmark. Team USA has scored just two goals in more than 120 minute of action and collected just two points – the first time since 2003 that the Americans have lost their first two games at the world tournament.

Denmark have been the biggest surprise of the tournament thus far, beating Finland 4-1 and then knocking off the Americans. The Danes did not play in the worlds from 1949 to 2003 – a year after gaining promotion to the elite group. And their best finish was 10th in 2007 – with a superb chance of bettering that mark.

“I don’t think anyone expected this before the tournament but the guys really came together and it is just amazing how everybody competes and just pushes each other,” Denmark’s Jesper Damgaard told the IIHF website.

“No one is selfish out there. It is all about the team and that is what is so amazing right now.”

Perhaps the most thrilling team thus far has been Belarus. After falling behind Kazakhstan 2-0 in their opener, Belarus stormed back to five unanswered goals in a 5-2 victory. Two days later – on Tuesday – Belarus jumped ahead of Slovakia 2-0 but then allowed four goals in a 4-2 defeat.

The tournament in general has been dominated by excellent performances by NHL stars. And despite the Stanley Cup playoffs going on in the NHL, among the top players in Germany are the NHL’s two-time defending Hart Trophy winner (Alexander Ovechkin), the hero of the 2008 and 2009 Worlds and a former Rocket Richard Trophy winner (Ilya Kovalchuk), the NHL’s top goal-scorer (Steven Stamkos), two out of the three Calder Trophy nominees (Matt Duchene, Tyler Myers) and the top two picks from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (John Tavares and Victor Hedman).

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