After falling behind early, the second-seeded Adler scored five unanswered goals to enjoy a 5-1 lead with less than twelve minutes left in regulation. But Mannheim nearly squandered its commanding lead as Kassel put on a huge rally, scoring three goals within nine minutes. But Pat Mikesch’s powerplay tally at 56:22 was as close as the fifth-seeded Huskies could get as Mannheim managed to hang on to a 5-4 home win to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Although Cologne had been swept and outscored 2-13 by Munich in their four-game regular season series, the sixth-seeded Kölner Haie entered Munich’s Olympia-Eisstadion with a lot of confidence on Easter Monday after sweeping the highly-touted Krefeld Pinguine in the opening round.
Cologne created a lot of offense in Munich, too, outshooting the top-seeded Barons 30-22. But like in the regular season, it was the Barons who came out on top in the end, though, behind great goaltending from former Haie netminder Boris Rousson and convincing special teams.Rousson: “We limited their quality chances”
“I’m happy with my game,” Rousson said. “I mean it was a solid game and I think the guys played really solid in front of me, too. We limited their quality scoring chances and didn’t give them second or third chances on rebounds. That makes the big difference and the job a lot easier for the goalie.”
Lack of scoring efficiency, especially on the man advantage, turned out to be the main problem for the Haie, who haven’t been able to score a powerplay goal against the Barons all year.Chernomaz: “Lack of intensity and bite”
“We didn’t score,” Haie head coach Rich Chernomaz explained, “especially on the 5-on-3 powerplay late in the first. In the first two periods, we didn’t have the intensity and bite that we had in the Krefeld series. That got better in the third. But we didn’t capitalize on our chances. That was the difference in today’s game.”
The Haie had the better start, though, claiming the lead 11:22 into the campaign. Netminder Chris Rogles cleared the puck along the left boards, Alex Hicks took it and passed it on to Corey Millen at center ice. Millen found Niclas Sundblad on the left wing before speeding past Barons center Peter Douris to appear all alone in front of netminder Boris Rousson. Sundblad centered the puck back to Millen who made a nice deke to tuck it into the net and put Cologne ahead 1-0.Herter puts pom-poms aside and scores
But Munich responded almost immediately. Matching minors to Barons defender Christoph Schubert and Haie sniper Corey Millen and a tripping call against Haie center Eric Bertrand gave the Barons a 4-on-3 powerplay. Veteran Derek King moved the puck into the zone and dumped it back to blueliner Jason Herter. His point blast was denied by Haie goalie Chris Rogles. But King recovered the rebound and got the puck back to Herter before moving in front of the net. Through traffic, “Bum Bum” Herter rifled another slapper at the net. His shot beat the well-screened Rogles to the stick side and tied the game at one apiece two minutes after Millen’s goal.
“That’s my role on the team right now,” said Herter, who only appeared in 19 regular season games being hampered by a knee injury, “to get out there on the powerplay and try and make things happen. And when I’m not out there, I gotta make sure everyone stays positive on the bench. I might also have some pom-poms in my hand.”Special teams key to victory
Late in the period, great special teams play gave Munich even more momentum, killing off a 64-second two-man advantage during minors to Andrej Strakhov and Shane Peacock.
Past the game’s midway point, Barons captain Simon Wheeldon came up with the game-winner on the powerplay. Set up by Mike Kennedy, Wheeldon one-timed the puck from the left slot. His shot ricocheted off the back boards, Derek Plante quickly seized it and got it back to Wheeldon who knocked it home from the doorstep to put Munich ahead 2-1 at 32:45.
“We didn’t panic despite the deficit,” Cologne’s Chernomaz said, “and showed some bite.”
But despite outshooting the Barons 11-6 in the final period, the Haie couldn’t find a way to overcome Munich’s smart defense and goalie Rousson.
“We played a solid game this afternoon,” Munich’s head coach Sean Simpson remarked, “but we gotta improve if we want to win this series. The Haie have confidence. Their game was also solid. The only difference today was the result.”
Game 2 of the semifinals will be played Wednesday night.Munich Barons - Kölner Haie 2-1 (1-1, 1-0, 0-0)
Scoring: 0-1 (11:22) Corey Millen (Niclas Sundblad, Alex Hicks), 1-1 (13:39) Jason Herter (Derek King, Mike Kennedy - 4:3), 2-1 (32:45) Simon Wheeldon (Derek Plante, Mike Kennedy).
Shots on Goal: Munich 22 (9:7:6), Cologne 30 (11:8:11).
Penalties: Munich 12, Cologne 12.
Power Play: Munich 2 of 5 (589 seconds), Cologne 0 of 4 (526 seconds).
Goalies: Boris Rousson (Munich), Chris Rogles (Cologne).
Referee: Gerhard Müller. Linesmen: Adam Niejodeck, Daniel Piachaczek.
Attendance: 3,876 (Olympia-Eisstadion, Munich).
Munich leads best-of-five series 1-0.Adler Mannheim - Kassel Huskies 5-4 (2-1, 2-0, 1-3)
Scoring: 0-1 (9:03) Kreutzer (Wright, Tory - 5:3), 1-1 (13:19) Stevens (Racine, Groleau), 2-1 (15:43) Hynes (Junker, Roach), 3-1 (23:50) Picard (Edgerton, Bergen), 4-1 (25:15) Vorobjev (Stevens, Richer), 5-1 (42:23) Groleau (Pasco, Junker), 5-2 (47:57) Kathan (Tory, Derraugh), 5-3 (52:59) Hartogs (Kreutzer, Abstreiter), 5-4 (56:22) Mikesch (Kathan, Derraugh - 5:4).
Penalties: Mannheim 10, Kassel 12 plus 10 misconduct for Abstreiter plus 10 misconduct for Tory
Attendance: 6,800 (Friedrichsparkstadion, Mannheim).
Mannheim leads best-of-five series 1-0.