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Frankfurt loses relegation series
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März 24, 2003; 18:52
Frankfurt loses relegation series
Will Schwenningen’s financial troubles save the Lions?
Frank Johne

Sealed Frankfurt’s fate: Schwenningen’s Francois Fortier

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Munich, Germany - Francois Fortier scored on a slapshot 42 seconds into overtime as the Schwenningen Wild Wings clinched the DEL Playdown Series” with a 3-2 (0-1, 1-0, 1-1, 1-0) Game 6 victory against the Frankfurt Lions Sunday night, sending Lance Nethery’s team to Division-2. However, Schwenningen’s financial troubles might keep the Lions from being relegated.

Relegated: 3-time championship coach Lance Nethery
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

The Wings had taken a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series Friday. 42-year-old Mike Bullard scored a hat trick, including two third-period tallies, as Schwenningen rallied from a 4-2 deficit halfway through the game to upset the Lions 7-4 (2-3, 1-1, 4-0) on the road.

Schwenningen, dead last in the standings after the regular season, had lost 18 straight games before winning four out of six against Frankfurt.

New low point for three-time championship coach

The loss marked another low point in the career of three-time DEL championship coach Lance Nethery. After leading Adler Mannheim to three straight titles from 1997-99, the 45-year-got fired midway through the season by the Kölner Haie last year. In Frankfurt, Nethery took a lot of heat before the season even started for bringing in a bunch of aging veterans (Marc Fortier, 36, Stephane Richer, 36, Paul Stanton, 35, and Greg Adams, 39.

After being eliminated from playoff contention, Frankfurt fell in a slump, losing seven of its final eight regular season games and ending up in the so-called “playdowns”, the relegation series. And the team started to fall apart before the series even started. 12 regulars, including starting goalie Dominic Roussel, were missing because of injuries. Adding insult to injury, Greg Adams, Frankfurt’s second-best scorer behind Fortier, chose to make an early exit. Instead of helping his ailing team in the struggle for survival, the 39-year-old ex-NHLer decided he had seen enough and returned to Canada.

Team owner: “Hope that Schwenningen will be bankrupt”

There is still hope for Frankfurt, though. Financially troubled Schwenningen had to file for insolvency during the season. The club has about two more weeks to find new investors and reduce its debt. But if insolvency proceedings are opened, Schwenningen will automatically lose its DEL franchise and be relegated. In that case, the Lions would stay in the league.

"It's bad but we actually have to hope that Schwenningen will be bankrupt” Lions owner Gerd Schröder said.

The Lions are set to play the waiting game. Lance Nethery, who will step back from coaching and assume the role of GM, and new coach Rich Chernomaz will have a hard time putting together a team for the new season. Most of the players have an escape clause that allows them to leave in the case of relegation. German-Canadian Robert Busch (Kassel Huskies), Collin Danielsmeier (Kölner Haie) and Jason Dunham (Heilbronner Falken, Div-2) have already signed elsewhere.
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