Freezers "work hard", take 1-0 series lead against Lions
Behind a pair of second-period power-play goals, the 3rd-seeded Hamburg Freezers rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat the 5th-seeded Frankfurt Lions 3-1 (0-0, 2-1, 1-0). With a sell-out crowd of 12,759 on hand at Color Line Arena, Freezers goaltender Boris Rousson had 25 saves on the night. Lions netminder Ian Gordon stopped 21 shots.
"We had to work hard for this victory", said Freezers forward Dave Tomlinson. "We got a couple of power-play goals, but the game stayed close until the end. We were very patient and played well defensively. And Rousson was very good again in net."
Hamburg was the better team in a scoreless opening period, but it was Frankfurt that drew first blood. On the power-play, Paul Stanton unleashed a shot from the center line. The puck ricocheted off the backboards and bounced out to the front of the net where the onrushing Dwayne Norris beat Freezers goalie Boris Rousson with a low shot to the stick side to put the Lions up 1-0 just 63 seconds into the middle frame. A high-sticking penalty to Lions forward David Gosselin gave the Freezers the opportunity to respond right away. Off Brad Purdie's faceoff win, Jacek Plachta passed the puck along the blueline to Darren Van Impe, who skated towards the right face-off circle and ripped a wrist shot over Ian Gordon's outstretched right pad to knot the game at 1:1 at the 4:35-mark of the second period. Just a few seconds later, the Lions caught a big break when Gordon robbed Purdie on a breakaway. But Hamburg kept pressing and got rewarded on another power-play opportunity late in the period. Near the right point, Dave Tomlinson drew the attention of two defenseman and found Bobby House all alone in front of the goal crease. House made a nice forehand move to squeeze the puck between Gordon's left pad and the post for the 2-1 lead with 2:15 to go in the second.
Hamburg failed to convert on a 105-second 5-on-3 power-play opportunity early in the third. But the Freezers had reason to celebrate four minutes later when Robert Francz, who was traded to Hamburg by the Lions midway through the season, gave them a two-goal lead. Big George Zajankala outwrestled a Lions defender near the right boards and centered the puck past stumbling defenseman Francois Bouchard. Robert Francz went top-shelf on Gordon's glove-hand from the slot to put the game out of reach at 3-1 with 8:48 left. Frankfurt was unable to put together a rally against Hamburg's effective neutral-zone trap.
"The key tonight was Hamburg's first goal by Van Impe", said Lions head coach Rich Chernomaz. "The tally gave 'em a lot of confidence. We weren't gritty and hungry enough tonight. Hamburg is a very strong and disciplined team, we gotta play better and more physical to win.""Polar Bears" win high-scoring opener over Ingolstadt
The top-seeded Berlin Eisbären squandered a 3-1 lead against 7th-seeded ERC Ingolstadt but held on for a 6-3 (3-1, 2-2, 1-0) home win in front of a sell-out crowd of 4,695 at Wellblechpalast. Mark Beaufait (2 goals, 2 assists), David Roberts (1G, 2A), Kelly Fairchild (3A), Ricard Persson (1G, 1A) and Denis Pederson (2A) all had multiple-point games for the "Polar Bears". Niki Mondt led Ingolstadt in scoring with a short-handed goal and an assist. Winning goaltender Oliver Jonas had 25 saves on 28 shots. Jimmy Waite stopped 29 of the 35 shots he saw.
Despite a one-week hiatus after their opening-round sweep, the Eisbären did not look rusty at all. They jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. Beaufait opened the scoring just 1:25 into the contest, knocking a backhanded shot from the slot past Waite after an Ingolstadt turnover inside the own blueline. Less than a minute later, Florian Keller was denied by Waite on a wrap-around attempt but scored on the second effort to put the "Polar Bears" up 2-0 at the 2:23-mark. Ingolstadt bounced back well and got a much-needed confidence-boost when Nicki Mondt scored on a short-handed 2-on-1 breakaway with Günter Oswald to cut the lead in half at 8:21 of the first. Berlin seized the opportunity to reclaim a two-goal lead late in the period. With Glen Goodall in the sin bin for cross-checking, Yvon Corriveau scored on a 3-on-2 odd-man rush with Pederson and Roberts to make it 3-1 just 1:36 before the first intermission.
Ingolstadt responded with a pair of goals early in the middle frame. Just 50 seconds in, Goodall scored on the man advantage with heavy traffic in front of Jonas. Two minutes later, Alexander Polaczek scored on his own rebound to make it 3-3 at the 2:59-mark. Ingolstadt failed to seize the momentum, though. Just three minutes after the equalizer, Roberts connected on a bad-angle shot to put the Eisbären ahead 4-3 at 5:42 of the second. The game slowed down a little thereafter. A tripping call against Phil von Stefenelli put Berlin on the power-play again midway through the second period. Ricard Persson seized the opportunity, ripping a high wrister from the left hashmark over Waite's glove hand. His goal extended the Bears' lead to 5-3 with 7:28 left in the middle stanza. Ingolstadt came close to cutting the deficit late in the period. Sean Tallaire blew the biggest chance when he was stopped by Jonas on a penalty shot. Beaufait's second tally of the night put the game out of reach at 6-3 at the 6:51-mark of the final frame.
"We made too many mistakes defensively", said ERCI head coach Ron Kennedy. "On the positive side, we erased a 3-1 deficit. In my opinion, Berlin can't play much better than they did tonight. But we know we can improve."
After missing most of the opening round with a hand injury, Ingolstadt's leading regular-season scorer Cameron Mann was back in the line-up.