Game four between the second-seeded Mannheim Adler and the seventh-seeded Berlin Eisbären was as tight as the whole series. Berlin’s Steve Walker managed to tie Mannheim’s early lead midway through the second, but the defending champion reclaimed the lead with under four minutes left in regulation when defender Brad Bergen got the puck past screened Eisbären netminder Richard Shulmistra. Todd Hlushko sealed Mannheim’s 3-1 road win with an empty-netter to clinch the series 3-1. The Kassel Huskies (5th) completed their upset of the higher-seeded Nuremberg Ice Tigers (4th) with a 3-0 home win, their second shutout victory of the series. Goals by Stephane Robitaille, Daniel Kreutzer and Tobias Abstreiter secured Kassel’s 3-1 series win.
6,449 spectators at Augsburg’s Curt-Frenzel-Stadion saw another poised performance by the eighth-seeded Panthers, who desperately needed a win to stay alive. But Munich played typical “Barons hockey”, relying on solid defense, Rousson’s goaltending skills and sharp counter attacks.
"We knew that Augsburg would be pressing like crazy in the opening fifteen minutes,“ Barons head coach Sean Simpson remarked. „When we got over that phase without conceding a goal, I knew we could win.”
Augsburg was willing to take the offense right from the start but failed to get the puck past Rousson despite good opportunities. A lack of efficiency that came back to haunt them.
With the Barons down a man late in the first, Christoph Schubert gained possession of the puck deep in his own zone. He skated it out quickly, creating a 2-on-2. In the neutral zone, he dumped the puck to Peter Douris on the left wing while driving to the net. Douris completed the give-and-go, centering the puck back to Schubert who tipped it past Panthers netminder Magnus Eriksson from the doorstep. His shorthander gave Munich a 1-0 lead with only 44 seconds to go in the first.
The game continued that way in the middle frame. The Panthers tried to penetrate Munich’s net while Munich provided the scoring. Two and a half minutes into the second, winger Mike Kennedy released a slapper from the right faceoff circle. Defender Kent Fearns gained control of the rebound and knocked the puck past Eriksson to double Munich’s lead on the powerplay.
It kind of epitomized Augsburg’s unfortunate performance that a mistake by Augsburg’s grittiest player helped Munich put the final nail into the coffin. With both team skating four aside, Panthers forward Andreas Morczinietz tried to skate the puck out of his own zone. But Derek King’s aggressive forechecking made him turn the puck over. Peter Douris gained control at the right point and started to drive to the net. He skated around defenseman Jakub Ficenec and backhanded the puck into the net below Eriksson’s glove hand to put Munich ahead 3-0 at 26:12 on a delayed penalty call.
Augsburg’s resistance was finally broken and frustration surfaced. The Barons added two insurance goals during a five-minute major to Eric Dandenault late in the third. First Shane Peacock made it 4-0, hammering a point blast past Eriksson glove side. With less than five minutes to go, Peacock centered the puck from the right boards, finding teammate David Oliver all alone in front of the net. Oliver outwaited Eriksson and lifted the puck over the diving netminder with his backhand to give Munich a 5-0 lead.
A solo effort by Panthers defenseman Reid Simonton spoiled Rousson’s shutout bid a minute later. Augsburg Panthers - Munich Barons 1-5 (0-1, 0-2, 1-2)
Scoring: 0-1 (19:16) Christoph Schubert (Derek Plante, Shane Peacock - 4:5), 0-2 (22:31) Kent Fearns (Mike Kennedy, Jason Herter - 5:4), 0-3 (26:17) Peter Douris (Jason Herter, Johan Rosén - 4:4), 0-4 (52:52) Shane Peacock (Derek King, Hans Lodin - 5:4), 0-5 (55:10) David Oliver (Derek Plante, Shane Peacock - 5:4), 1-5 (56:11) Reid Simonton (Tommy Jakobsen - 4:5).
Penalties: Augsburg 20 plus 5 plus game misconduct for Eric Dandenault, Munich 20.
Goalies: Magnus Eriksson (Augsburg), Boris Rousson (Munich).
Attendance: 6,449 (Curt-Frenzel-Stadion, Augsburg).
Munich wins best-of-five series 3-1.