"The atmosphere has improved 1000%, and Schmitty [coach Mike Schmidt, pictured above] has a lot to do with it."
Hamburg, Germany - Well, training camp is over. We officially ended it today, or as Schmitty put it before the game, we started our season today already, when we played our 1st round DEB Pokal game against the Essen Moskitoes. We won 3-0, with Paul Manning, Mike Smazal and Alexander Barta scoring our goals, one every period. I played the whole game, recorded the shutout, although it wasn't my hardest one. It was a pretty good game, well balanced and I had to make a few good saves, especially in the second period when the Moskitos put a little more pressure on us. When we scored our second goal, the game shifted a little more on our side and we were never really tested after. With the win, we erase a little bit the nightmare start from last season when we lost to Kaufbeuren in the Pokal opener, and it kind of set the tone for a very average season... Kaufbeuren ended up finishing last in the second league!! Hopefully, we will be able to build from this success to have a good season and home opener on Friday, against Hannover.
What is our team going to look like in 2005-2006? Well, even if we have been busy to work already for over a month, it might be too early to say how we will look. We still have three foreigner spots open, and we should use one or two of them pretty soon to add a little power to our offence...Training camp has been good, very good even. Our team has changed a lot since last September. The biggest and most important change, in my opinion, was made already at the end of last season, when Mike Schmidt became our head coach, replacing Dave King. The atmosphere in and around the team has improved one thousand percent, and Schmitty has a lot to do with it. Hockey is fun again, and we enjoy coming to practice and hanging around each other, which was not the case in the last two seasons. For the few guys from the Munich years of the Freezers (it's only me, Chief and Smash now), it was nice to have Doug Bradley coming back as an assistant. He completes Mike very well, and is also a great guy to be around in the dressing room. Dougie always has a story for every situation! When you add our goalie coach André "Prof" Lebrun, we have to say that we are in good hands!
I have a new partner in goal this season, well, two new partners. Steffen Karg comes from Ingolstadt, and Tobias Güttner from Nürnberg. Unfortunately, Kargie suffered a knee injury during the first week of training camp and could not play any preseason games. He should be ready to back me up on Friday though. He already has a lot of DEL experience and will definitely be a good help for me. Steffen's bad break in August was somewhat a good one for Tobi, who took advantage of the increased practice and playing time to show what he could do. I was very impressed with his cool during the games. I guess he will play in Stuttgart in the Oberliga (Div-3), and come back to help us in case of injuries to either me or Kargie.
"Alex Barta has impressed me the most by his skill, guts and game intelligence"
Tore Vikingstad led the way with a pair of goals, including the game-winner on the power-play with 2:55 left, as the DEG Metro Stars rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win Game 5 5-3 at home.
Winning goaltender Andrei Trefilov recorded 20 saves on the night while Cologne's Thomas Greiss stopped 32 of the 37 shots he faced.
An apparent powerplay goal from Craig Johnson was taken off the boards six minutes into the contest as his stick was over the crossbar when he re-directed in a point shot from Alexander Sulzer.
But Johnson and Sulzer teamed up again midway through the period. With Cologne's Ivan Ciernik in the sin bin, Johnson provided a perfect screen in front of the net as Sulzer blasted a high slapshot from center point over Greiss' glove hand to give the Metro Stars a 1-0 lead at the 10:30-mark.
Cologne tied the game with just over a minute left in the opening period when Stars netminder Trefilov mishandled a knuckling bad-angle shot by Philipp Gogulla from the left boards.
With time running out in the first, Tore Vikingstad knocked home a behind-the-net feed from Klaus Kathan from the doorstep to give Düsseldorf a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
Things really got going in the middle frame. There were quality scoring opportunities on both ends. Düsseldorf’s Andy Schneider was stoned twice by Haie netminder Greiss on short-handed breakaways. The Haie evened the score at 2-2 when Jeremy Adduono struck on the power-play midway through the second period. Cologne could have taken the lead but Bill Lindsay, the match winner of Game 4, missed the net after a fine solo effort. Then the Haie caught a big break when a shot from Stars defender Jeff Tory bounced off the post on the man advantage.
The Haie shocked the Metro Stars when they took the lead for the first time, 3-2, on a turnaround shot from Ivan Ciernik at the 8:43-mark of the final period.
Things started heating up in the final six minutes. With the Haie still nursing a one-goal lead, defenseman Lasse Kopitz was assessed a delay-of-game penalty. A minute later, Eduard Lewandowski's high stick hit Düsseldorf's Patrick Reimer right in the face. He got a major plus game misconduct.
The ensuing 5-on-3 advantage was not enough for Metro Stars head coach Don Jackson who also pulled goalie Andrej Trefilov for an additional attacker. The gamble paid off 37 seconds later when a leaping Craig Johnson deflected in a shot by Tory from the top of the left face-off circle at 16:03.
Düsseldorf kept pressing and was rewarded with the eventual game-winner when Tore Vikingstad scored off the rebound of a shot from fellow-Norwegian Tommy Jakobsen, making it 4-3 with 2:55 to go. Patrick Reimer added another power-play tally 37 seconds later to seal Düsseldorf's come-from-behind win.
Three more Haie players got ejected in the waning minutes of the game after taking out their frustration on American referee Rick Looker.