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Eisbären clinch first playoff berth
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Februar 16, 2004; 16:26
Eisbären clinch first playoff berth
Frankfurt, Augsburg continue to struggle
Frank Johne

Head coach Pierre Pagé of the Berlin Polar Bears
Pierre Pagé and the Berlin Eisbären now have their sights set on the top seed

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Munich, Germany - With seven games left in the regular season, the Berlin Eisbären became the first team to secure a playoff berth in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) Saturday. While Hamburg and Ingolstadt are closing in on the slumping Frankfurt Lions, the playoff hopes of the sputtering Augsburger Panther suffered another blow Sunday.

Robert Guillet of the Krefeld Penguins
Rob Guillet and the Krefeld Pinguine have re-discovered their winning ways under new head coach Bill Stewart
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

„Polar Bears“ clinch playoff spot

The first-place Berlin Eisbären became the first team to secure one of the eight spots in the 2004 DEL playoffs Saturday night with a 3-1 (1-0, 1-1, 1-0) home win over the Mannheim Adler. Riding on a six-game winning streak, Pierre Pagé’s team also tightened its grip on the top seed, extending the lead over the second-place Frankfurt Lions to eight points. Berlin opened the scoring when Sven Felski buried the rebound of a shot by Alexander Barta with under two minutes left in the first. Mannheim’s joy of Christoph Ullmann’s equalizer early in the middle stanza was short-lived. Only 12 seconds later, Yvon Corriveau redirected a pass from Mark Beaufait past Marc Seliger to give the “Polar Bears” a 2-1 lead at 5:43 of the second. Even a miscue couldn’t slow down the Eisbären. They wasted about 40 seconds of power-play time by putting only four instead of five skaters on the ice. Berlin put the game out of reach when Florian Keller scored from the doorstep 1:38 into the final stanza.

Frankfurt suffers third straight loss

Rob Guillet led the way with two goals and an assist as the Krefeld Pinguine stunned the second-place Frankfurt Lions on the road. Coming off a shutout against Freiburg, Robert Müller put on another goaltending clinic, turning aside 37 shots as the Penguins won 4-1 (1-0, 0-0, 3-1) in front of a sellout crowd at Frankfurt’s Eissporthalle. The Lions have dropped three straight games for the first time this season.

Krefeld’s defense-first strategy paid off. It was only fitting that goalie Müller also recorded an assist when the Penguins took a lucky 1-0 lead midway through the opening frame. His pass to Guillet started a counterattack that was capped by Stefan Ustorf’s first goal in a Penguins uniform. Ustorf’s rather soft shot got deflected past Ian Gordon to put Krefeld up 1-0 at 9:46. Frankfurt kept pressing, but Müller kept his net clean. Guillet doubled the lead to 2-0 when his shot from the right slot found the back of the net at 2:20 of the third. A power-play goal by Lions defender Peter Ratchuk cut the lead in half, but Frankfurt’s comeback hopes were dashed when Guillet struck again to make it 3-1 with 10:32 remaining. Alexander Selivanov capped the scoring at 4-1 2:29 before the final horn.

Hamburg, Ingolstadt eyeing home ice for the playoffs

The Hamburg Freezers and ERC Ingolstadt, who are tied for third with 82 points each, trail the second-place Frankfurt by only four points.

Defenseman Darren Van Impe had two goals and an assist as the Hamburg Freezers cruised to a 4-1 (1-0, 3-0, 0-1) home win over the Hannover Scorpions in their first game since the All-Star Break. Peter Abstreiter’s goal at 5:21 gave Hamburg an early lead. Van Impe’s two second-period scores put the game out of reach. The first one, the eventual game-winner at 0:48 of the middle frame, was not only short-handed but also spectacular as Van Impe made a diving effort to knock the puck past Scorpions goalie Ilpo Kauhanen. He added a power-play tally later in the period. Dave Tomlinson also scored for the Freezers. Björn Bombis spoiled Christian Künast’s shutout bid with under four minutes to go in the game.

Augsburg’s playoff hopes fading away

Despite a poised effort in front of their first sell-out crowd of the season, the Augsburger Panther could not put an end to their losing skid. With 7,774 in attendance at Curt-Frenzel Arena, Niki Mondt scored with 1:11 to go to lift ERC Ingolstadt to a 3-2 (1-1, 1-0, 1-1) win over Augsburg, which has lost six straight and nine of its last eleven games. In the meantime, their eighth win in a row elevated Ingolstadt into fourth place in the standings, which would guarantee them home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Augsburg took an early 1-0 lead when Thorsten Fendt finished off an odd-man rush with Colin Beardsmore at 2:04 of the first. Ingolstadt’s Doug Ast tied the game at one apiece with under six minutes left in the opening stanza, tucking home the rebound of Yves Racine’s point shot on the man advantage. Augsburg kept pressing, but failed to score. After killing off a double minor to Ken Sutton, Ingolstadt took a 2-1 lead on an odd-man rush midway through the second. Sam Groleau scored off the rebound of a shot by Glen Goodall. Ingolstadt missed the chance to double the lead when a shot by Ast rang off the crossbar just half a minute later.

The Panthers battled back and tied the score at 2-2 on the man advantage with 8:06 to go in the contest when Francois Fortier went top shelf from the slot. Ingolstadt caught a big break when a shot from Augsburg’s Marc Savard hit the framework two minutes later. Things got even worse for the Panthers when Niki Mondt’s wrister from the blueline sailed past Magnus Eriksson to hand Augsburg another heart-breaking loss.

Final berth: DEG Metro Stars have six-point cushion

The DEG Metro Stars solidified their hold on the eighth and final playoff berth with a 3-0 (1-0, 1-0, 1-0) home win over the Nürnberg Ice Tigers. Düsseldorf has a six-point cushion over Augsburg and also two games in hand. Daniel Kreutzer had a power-play goal and two assists. Andrej Trefilov turned aside 23 shots for his second shutout. Trond Magnussen scored the game-winner at 18:14 of the opening stanza, squeezing the puck between Frederic Chabot’s left pad and the right goal post after a nice feed by Jeff Tory. A screened shot by Mike Pellegrims doubled the lead to 2-0 on the man advantage midway through the second period.

Freiburg rallies for rare win

The Freiburg Wölfe scored twice in the final four minutes to erase a 2-0 deficit and Juraj Faith scored the game-winning conversion in the penalty shootout as the last-place “Wolves” skated to a 3-2 (0-1, 0-1, 2-0, 1-0) home win over the Kassel Huskies. Kassel dominated the game, outshooting Freiburg 49-29, and had a 2-0 lead after goals by Stephane Robitaille and Rob Busch. Freiburg managed to hang in, though. Daniel Willaschek’s power-play goal at 16:06 of the third cut the lead in half and Dany Bousquet scored with 58 seconds left to send the game into the extra session.

Cologne prevails after shootout

The fifth-place Kölner Haie also needed a shootout decision to down the Iserlohn Roosters on the road. Boris Blank got credit for the game-winner as the Haie prevailed 4-3 (1-1, 2-2, 0-0, 1-0). Leo Stefan, Jean-Yves Roy and Brad Schlegel (power-play) were the other scorers. Matt Henderson notched a pair of goals for Iserlohn, including a power-play tally. James Black scored the other goal for the Roosters.
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