With 16,665 in attendance at the KölnArena, the second-seeded Haie secured their third trip to the DEL finals in the last four years with a 4-3 (0-1, 2-1, 1-1, 1-0) overtime victory over the fourth-seeded Adler.
Needing a win to stay alive, the Adler got off to a great start when Rene Corbet made it 1-0 just four minutes into the contest. The Haie dominated the game, but Mannheim added another goal. Andy Roach doubled the lead to 2-0 on the powerplay after Mike Kennedy knocked the rebound of Yves Racine’s bluleine blast to him in front of the wide-open net.
A lucky score brought Cologne back into the game late in the middle frame. From a very bad angle, Robert Hock sent the puck towards the net and it slipped through a small hole between the post and Rosati’s left skate to put the Haie on the scoreboard. An outstanding solo effort by defenseman Mickey Elick tied the score at 2-2 less than three minutes before the second intermission. With the Haie skating 4-on-3, Elick took the puck coast-to-coast and backhanded it past Adler goalie Mike Rosati.
The game slowed down in the final period. Cologne took a 3-2 lead when Tino Boos went top-shelf on the powerplay with 4:46 to go in regulation, cashing in on a controversial too-many-men penalty against the Adler. Facing elimination, Mannheim showed great poise and got rewarded when Ilja Vorobjev scored with traffic in front of the net 2:31 from the final horn, sending the contest into overtime.
Both teams started out the extra period rather hesitant. Cologne’s Dwayne Norris was denied by the framework 10 minutes into overtime. Just seconds later, Mannheim’s Marcel Goc missed the wide-open net after a nice solo effort by Andy Roach.
At 12:56, Dave McLlwain put the nail into the coffin, converting a nice centering feed from Dwayne Norris for the series-winning goal from the near right slot. Hlushko: “Referee was embarrassing”
“Unfortunately, the series was predetermined by the first two games”, Mannheim’s Todd Hlushko said. “An official like Chvatal (who did the first two games) shouldn’t even ref in this game, it was embarrassing. Willy Schimm did a great job today. Both teams played great hockey, it was exactly how a playoff game should be.”
“I’m very happy we won”, Haie forward Robert Hock stated. “It was a close game. Actually, all three games were very close. Luck was on our side tonight. That’s part of the game.”
“We did not play as well as in the first two games”, Haie head coach Hans Zach said. “But it was good to see the team rally from the early 2-0 deficit. We were a bit lucky, too, especially in overtime.”