Eisbären end Ingolstadt's great season, make 2nd-ever finals appearance
After sweeping the 8th-seeded DEG Metro Stars in the first round of the DEL Playoffs, the unbeaten Berlin Eisbären completed their second straight sweep, clinching their best-of-five semifinal series against 7th-seeded ERC Ingolstadt with a 5-0 (4-0, 1-0, 0-0) home win in front of a sell-out crowd of 4,698 at Wellblechpalast. Oliver Jonas made 25 saves for his second playoff shutout. Ingolstadt's Jimmy Waite stopped 37 of the 42 shots he saw.
Berlin will make its second-ever appearance in the DEL Finals. In 1997-98, the Eisbären lost in four games, 3-1, to the Mannheim Adler. Forwards Yvon Corriveau and Sven Felski are the only remaining players from that team. Felski will miss Game 1 of the 2004 Finals. He was assessed a high-sticking major plus game misconduct after a third-period foul on Ingolstadt's Brad Burym.
"Of course it's disappointing", said Ingolstadt's forward Günter Oswald. "The Eisbären dominated us physically, they read our plays and were always a step ahead."
A great season comes to an end for ERC Ingolstadt, which rebounded well from a 2-8 start into the 2003-04 campaign, clinching a playoff berth in only its second DEL season and the first under head coach Ron Kennedy. They upset the 2nd-seeded Nürnberg Ice Tigers in the first round of the DEL Playoffs, winning four straight games after a 2-0 series deficit.
Tuesday's game was essentially over after six minutes. Ingolstadt looked flat and tired and got overwhelmed by another "blitz start" by the Eisbären, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the 5:36-mark of the opening frame. Florian Keller converted a behind-the-net feed from Florian Busch to open the scoring 4:12 into the contest. Consecutive penalties to ERC defensemen Yves Racine (high sticking) and Phil von Stefenelli (roughing) put Berlin on the power-play. Skating 5-on-3, "Polar Bears" captain Ricard Persson connected on a one-timer from the right slot to make it 2-0 (5:01). With the Eisbären still up a man, Denis Pederson scored with heavy traffic in front of Waite to extend the lead to 3-0. Berlin failed to add on to the lead despite another two-man advantage. Late in the period, Kelly Fairchild made it 4-0, beating Waite high to the glove-hand side from the left slot (16:20).
Fairchild added a short-handed goal midway through the second. He skated past defenseman Brad Burym down the right wing and went top-shelf on Waite's stick hand to cap the scoring at 5-0 at 9:03 of the second.
"We're getting contributions from everybody right now", said Fairchild. "All four lines are chipping in. We're getting great goaltending too. That's the key in the playoffs. Hopefully, we'll keep rolling."Hamburg only one win away from DEL Finals
Team-leading scorer Shane Peacock improved his playoff point-total to 12 with a goal and three assists as the 3rd-seeded Hamburg Freezers downed the 5th-seeded Frankfurt Lions at home, 7-3 (2-1, 3-1, 2-1). Hamburg now has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five semifinal series and needs one more win for its first-ever appearance in the DEL Finals.
The game was not as lop-sided as the final score indicated. As in Game 1 of the series, the power play made the difference in front of a capacity crowd of 12,759 at Color Line Arena. Hamburg was 4-for-10 while Frankfurt went 2-for-8. Freezers goaltender Boris Rousson had 17 saves on the night. Lions netminder Ian Gordon stopped 26 of the 33 shots he faced.
Bobby House (2G, 1A), Mark Greig and Brad Purdie (1G, 2A each) also had multiple-point games for the Freezers.
"It's a big weight off my shoulders", said Purdie after notching his first goal of the series. "But it's a team effort, we're getting great goaltending. Scoring seven goals is great. Hopefully they're a little down right now. But there's no question they're not gonna quit." Hamburg can wrap up the series with a road victory at Frankfurt's Eissporthalle Friday night (7:30 pm local, 2:30 pm ET).
Peacock opened the scoring 5:18 into the tilt, going top-shelf on a wrap-around. Frankfurt tied the game at 1-1 when Jason Young tucked home the rebound after a solo effort from David Gosselin on the man advantage (13:22). Hamburg reclaimed the lead late in the opening stanza. Skating four aside, defenseman Heiko Smazal took the puck at the blue line, skated around Lions defender Francois Bouchard and beat Gordon to the glove-hand side with a high wrister from the right slot to make it 2-1 with 2:36 to go.
The Freezers went on the power-play when Frankfurt's Jonas Stöphgesoff was assessed a spearing major plus game misconduct after an alleged butt-end hit. Purdie scored on his own rebound to double Hamburg's lead to 3-1 at the 5:25-mark of the second. With the teams skating four-on-four, Peter Abstreiter sped past Bouchard down the right side and beat Gordon 1-on-0 to make it 4-1 exactly a minute later. Frankfurt responded right away. Just another 13 seconds later, Michael Hackert found Christian Kohmann on the doorstep to cut the lead to 4-2 (6:38). The Lions managed to hang in but then hurt themselves with a bench minor for too many men. On the ensuing power-play, House blasted a slapshot from top of the left face off circle past Gordon to make it 5-2 3:53 before the second intermission.
Hamburg extended the lead to four goals on another power-play opportunity. Mark Greig took a hard feed from Dan Lambert and scored on a bad-angle shot to make it 6-2 4:00 into the final stanza. With under six minutes left, Bouchard brought the Lions within three, one-timing a slapshot through Rousson's legs on the man advantage. House capped the scoring on the two-man advantage with 1:54 left, burying a behind-the-net feed from Purdie.