With the loss, Munich slipped to fourth in the standings. The Barons have registered ten points in five games while Mannheim leads the league with 14 points out of six games. Surprise teams Schwenningen and Augsburg, who both didn’t make the playoffs last season, are second and third.
Individual mistakes and poor special teams were the keys to Munich’s poor performance in the clash of title contenders. Christian Künast made his fifth straight start in net. His once again strong performance couldn’t bail it out this time though, as Munich was outshot by Mannheim, 39-24.
Both teams were hampered by injury problems. Mannheim operated with only three forward lines while Munich was short on defenders with Jason Herter (meniscus), Kent Fearns (adductors) and Christoph Schubert (wrist) out.
Former Washington Cap and Cincinnati Cyclone Stefan Ustorf gave Mannheim an early lead six minutes in on a short-hander when he intercepted Munich’s Derek Plante in the neutral zone and blasted the puck past Künast.
Munich managed to respond immediately, though. Only three minutes later, Alexander Serikow skated around Mannheim’s net and beautifully set up trailing defenseman Mike Smazal at the blueline. His shot got past Adler netminder Mike Rosati, who was perfectly screened by Barons winger Harry Waibel.
The 29-year-old Waibel, who was brought in last week for the injured Jörg Handrick, also registered his first assist. Waibel is a well-known face in Munich. He played for Munich’s former DEL franchise, the Mad Dogs, in 1994-95.
Mannheim regained control of the game in the second period. Andy Roach got the Adler ahead 2-1 on a powerplay blast midway through the period after being nicely set up by Flyers draft choice Dennis Seidenberg.
The hosts clearly dominated from there on and doubled the lead at 47:34 after a costly turnover by Andy Schneider at center-ice. Michel Picard reacted quickly and set up Todd Hlushko who knocked it past Künast.
Former Baron Wayne Hynes sealed Mannheim’s 4-1 victory with an empty-netter 135 seconds from the final horn. In a last-gasp effort, Munich’s Head Coach Sean Simpson had decided to pull netminder Künast to create a 6-on-4 powerplay opportunity.