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2004 DEL Finals start tonight
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April 8, 2004; 15:39
2004 DEL Finals start tonight
Unbeaten Berlin Eisbären host Frankfurt Lions * Live web radio updates
Frank Johne

Berlin is led by Beaufait, Roberts and Fairchild (above). Frankfurt's hopes rest on Young, Lebeau, Bouchard and Norris (below, left to right, top to bottom).

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Munich, Germany - The fifth-seeded Frankfurt Lions will take on the top-seeded Berlin Eisbären in Game 1 of the 2004 DEL Finals at Berlin's Wellblechpalast tonight. Can the roaring Lions end the impressive unbeaten streak of the "Polar Bears"? The extensive preview gets you ready for the final showdown in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

It's Jonas vs. Gordon, Pagé vs. Chernomaz tonight in Berlin
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

Matchup: DEL Finals 2004, Game 1 (best-of-five): Frankfurt Lions vs. Berlin Eisbären, Wellblechpalast (Berlin), April 8, 2004, 7:30pm local / 1:30pm Eastern. Referee: Willy Schimm (Waldkraiburg). Linesmen: Gregor Brodnicki, Thomas Gemeinhardt.

Schedule: Game 2 @ Frankfurt (Sat, April 10, 6:35pm local), Game 3 @ Berlin (Mon, April 12, 2:15pm local). If necessary: Game 4 @ Frankfurt (Fri, April 16, 7:30pm local), Game 5 @ Berlin (Sun, April 18, 2:30pm local).

Regular season: Eisbären won season series 3-1, (3-1, 4-1 at home, 3-2, 5-6 after shootout on the road)

The Lions make their first-ever appearance in the DEL Finals. The Eisbären made their only trip to the finals under head coach Peter John Lee (now the team's GM) in 1997-98, losing in four games, 3-1, to the Mannheim Adler. Defenseman Rob Leask, forwards Yvon Corriveau and Sven Felski are the only remaining players from that team.

Radio: Eisbären web-radio (German; with English updates from injured forward Jeff Tomlinson every 15 minutes): Link

TV (Astra satellite, 19° East): RBB (10.45-11.00pm CET), hessen fernsehen / HR (11.45-11.55pm CET), Das Erste / ARD ("Nachtmagazin", Apr 9, 1.00-1.20am CET), rhein main tv (Apr 9, 8.30-10.30pm CET).

Road to the Finals: Berlin: swept 8th-seeded DEG Metro Stars 4-0 (1st Rd; 5-3h, 4-3r OT, 3-0h, 3-2r), swept 7th-seeded ERC Ingolstadt 3-0 (Semis; 6-3h, 4-1r, 5-0h).
Frankfurt: beat 4th-seeded Kölner Haie 4-2 (1st Rd; 1-2r, 1-0h, 3-0r, 3-0h, 2-6r, 6-1h), beat 3rd-seeded Hamburg Freezers 3-2 (Semis; 1-3r, 4-1h, 3-7r, 7-5h, 5-3r).

Goal: Eisbären head coach Pierre Pagé keeps rotating his two goaltenders Oliver Jonas and Rich Parent: "I'm doing this for the first time in 32 years," said Pagé. "We have two good goalies, so I got to play 'em both. Both have indeed been solid backbones in the playoffs: Jonas has won all four starts, recording 1.50 GAA, a save percentage of .938 and two shutouts. Parent started and won three games, posting a 1.86 GAA, .917 S%. Jonas is projected to start all home games while Parent will play on the road. Ian Gordon will be between the pipes for the Lions. Gordon was the backbone of Frankfurt's first-round upset of the Kölner Haie. He set a new DEL record with three straight shutouts in that series. He struggled a little during the Hamburg series, but rebounded well, playing two of his finest games on the brink of elimination. Gordon has started all 11 playoff games for the Lions, recording a 2.56 GAA, .918 S% and three shutouts.

Regular season series:
Jonas: .2 starts, 1W, 1L, 917 S%
Parent: 2 starts, 2W, .951 S%
Gordon: 4 games, 1W, 3L, .882 save percentage

Defense: Both defensive units have tightened up since the end of the regular season. Berlin is averaging 1.77 GAA (2.42 during the reg. season) while Frankfurt has a GAA of 2.55 (2.84). Micki Du Pont, Ricard Persson, Brad Bergen and Darryl Shannon are Berlin's defensive leaders. Persson and Keith Aldridge are big threats on the power-play. Rob Leask has recovered from a ligament strain and will see increasing ice time. Lions defenders Peter Ratchuk, Paul Stanton and Francois Bouchard all have sound offensive instincts and ranked among the top-scoring defensemen in the league. Bouchard, who has a good point shot, is second on the team in playoff scoring with 3G and 7A. While Bouchard and Ratchuk tend to neglect their defensive duties at times, stay-at-home defensemen Sebastian Klenner and Mikael Magnusson lead the team in the plus-minus category (both +7). Dan Peters (broken cheekbone) is back on the ice with a full visor and expected to see increasing playing time.

Forward: Both teams are offensive powerhouses with good depth. Berlin has outscored its first two playoff opponents 15-8 and 15-4, averaging over four goals per game. Frankfurt outscored its opponents 16-9 and 20-19, averaging over three goals per game. Berlin Eisbären: Three players have reached double-digit point totals in only seven postseason appearances: Mark Beaufait (5G, 6A), Kelly Fairchild (4G, 6A) and David Roberts (2G, 8A). Denis Pederson (4G, 5A) and Steve Walker (4G, 2A) have also been big-time contributors. Six different players have tallied game-winning goals: Walker notched back-to-back GWG in the Düsseldorf series, the other game-winners were scored by defensemen Micki DuPont, Ricard Person and Darryl Shannon, forwards David Roberts and Florian Keller. Always keep an eye on sniper Yvon Corriveau, who is a big presence in front of the net. Rob Shearer (3A) hopes to end his drought. Frankfurt Lions: Pat Lebeau and Jesse Belanger, the highly energetic Franco-Canadian duo that scared DEL defenses in the regular season, has been rather quiet so far. Lebeau came alive again in the second half of the Hamburg series and has 5G and 4A. But others have stepped into the spotlight: Veteran Jason Young leads all playoff scorers with 17 points (5G, 12A). Fellow veteran Dwayne Norris (7G, 2A) and hard-workers David Gosselin (4G, 7A), Michael Hackert (2G, 4A), David SulkovskyMike Harder (2G, 3A) have scored clutch goals. Harder leads the Lions with two game-winning goals.

Special Teams:Frankfurt leads all playoff teams in power-play efficiency (27,6%). Berlin is third (25,6%). Both penalty-killing units are almost even with efficiencies of 82,4% and 82,9% respectively. Berlin has already tallied four short-handed goals while Frankfurt managed to score once.

Coaching: Eisbären head coach Pierre Pagé is in his third season in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. The 55-year-old Quebec-native joined the "Polar Bears" in January 2002. Berlin finished 7th overall (31-29) in Pagé's first season and was eliminated by the Mannheim Adler in the first round of the playoffs. In his first full season, Pagé led Berlin to a 35-17 record in 2002-03. The team finished first overall and was stopped in the semifinals by the Krefeld Pinguine, who went on to win the DEL title. Pagé, who head coached four NHL teams (Calgary, Minnesota, Quebec and Anaheim), is assisted by Hartmut Nickel. Rich Chernomaz is in his first season with the Frankfurt Lions. The 40-year-old Manitoba-native managed to turn the worst team in the league into a serious playoff contender within a couple of months. Chernomaz worked his magic for the first time in 2001-02 when he took over the Kölner Haie midway through the season and led the sixth-seeded team to the DEL Championship. Chernomaz has also coached the Augsburger Panther and former DEL team Schwenninger Wild Wings. He is assisted by former player Stephané Richer.

Injuries/Suspensions: Lions center Martin Reichel is questionable for Game 1, but expected to return from a back injury at some point during the series. Eisbären forward Sven Felski will miss Game 1 due to a one-game suspension. He was assessed a high-sticking major plus game misconduct after a foul on Ingolstadt's Brad Burym during Game 3 of the semifinal series.
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