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März 13, 2005; 23:53
Frankfurt claims top seed – Augsburg, Hamburg are in – Hanover salvaged, Wolfsburg forced to relegation series
Frank Johne

A two-goal effort by veteran Leonardo Soccio capped Hanover's amazing turnaround
A two-goal effort by veteran Leonardo Soccio capped Hanover's amazing turnaround

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Munich, Germany - With the top seed and two playoff berths still up for grabs and a place in the relegation series yet to be determined, Sunday's regular season finale in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) had drama written all over it. Defending champion Frankfurt Lions will enter the DEL Playoffs as the top-seeded team for the first time in franchise history after the Berlin Eisbären stumbled badly en route to their third-consecutive #1 finish. The red-hot Augsburger Panther rallied for their sixth straight win and wrapped up the seventh seed. The Hamburg Freezers also won, leaving the Krefeld Pinguine, one of the hottest teams in the past month, out of the playoffs. Krefeld's tremendous poise turned out to be fateful for expansion Wolfsburg, which got knocked into the relegation series because of a late equalizer by the Pens and Hanover's win at Ingolstadt.

Frankfurt's Pat Lebeau has won back-to-back DEL scoring titles
Frankfurt's Pat Lebeau has won back-to-back scoring titles
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

Frankfurt claims top seed, Lebeau wins second scoring crown

Doug Weight had four assists and Dwayne Norris netted a pair of goals as the Frankfurt Lions skated to a 4-1 (2-0, 2-0, 0-1) home win over the Mannheim Adler, who suffered their sixth straight loss. Frankfurt scored all its goals on the power-play, going 4-for-10 on the night. Joe Murphy and Pat Lebeau also tallied for the defending champion. A third-period tally by Fabio Carciola spoiled Ian Gordon's shutout bid.

Canadian Pat Lebeau became the first player in DEL history to win back-to-back scoring crowns. The 34-year-old St. Jerome, Quebec-native improved last season's 69-point mark by an amazing 25 points, finishing with 29 goals and 65 assists, both league-leading marks as well. Mike York of the Iserlohn Roosters was second with 62 points (16G, 46A). Lebeau's teammate Dwayne Norris was the third-best scorer with 58 points (27G, 31A).

Frankfurt will face the Hamburg Freezers in the opening round of the playoffs. Hamburg secured the #8 seed with 4-2 (1-0, 1-1, 2-1) road win over the last-place Kassel Huskies.

Berlin gets thrashed, will meet red-hot Augsburg

The Berlin Eisbären, who appeared to be headed for their third consecutive top seed, were crushed on the road by the DEG Metro Stars. The Metro Stars paid farewell to head coach Butch Goring, who won't return for another season, with a 7-2 (1-1, 4-0, 2-1) rout. Daniel Kreutzer recorded four assists and Mike Pellegrims notched two goals for Düsseldorf.

Berlin will face the red-hot Augsburger Panther, who wrapped up the #7 seed with a 4-3 (3-3, 0-0, 1-0) home win over the Iserlohn Roosters. A short-handed goal from 41-year-old veteran Duanne Moeser 1:59 into the third turned out to be the game-winner in a tilt that saw both teams running on all cylinders right from the opening face-off. Augsburg was trailing 2-0 at the 3:48-mark after tallies by Iserlohn's Martin Knold and Mike Kennedy (PP). But the Panthers needed little time to respond. Rick Girard and Daniel Rau scored 36 seconds apart to knot the contest at 2-2 five minutes into the contest. Iserlohn reclaimed the lead when Rhett Gordon tallied midway through the opening stanza. But Francois Fortier tied the game at three apiece before the first intermission.

Wolfsburg and Kassel headed to relegation series

Expansion team Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg came just 183 seconds shy of prematurely saving themselves from relegation. Alex Selivanov spoiled Wolfsburg's hopes of a relegation win with his late game-tying goal and Ivo Jan scored the game-winning shot in the ensuing penalty shootout as the Krefeld Pinguine came out on top of a see-saw game, 6-5 (2-2, 1-1, 2-2, 1-0).

Wolfsburg will now face the last-place Kassel Huskies in the so-called "DEL Playdowns". The loser of this best-of-seven series will be relegated to Division-2.

The Hannover Scorpions, who were trailing Wolfsburg by as many as 17 points back in January, avoided a trip to the relegation series with a 4-1 (0-0, 2-1, 2-0) road win over slumping ERC Ingolstadt. Veteran center Len Soccio had a pair of goals for Hanover, including the eventual game-winner at 15:25 of the middle frame. Patrik Augusta and Jason Cipolla also scored for Hanover. Marco Sturm recorded the sole goal for Ingolstadt.

Sunday's win capped an amazing turnaround for the Scorpions. After starting out the season 6-15 under Swedish coach Gunnar Leidborg, the Scorpions went 15-16 since Kevin Gaudet assumed head coaching reins in late November.

Cologne earns home ice for Ingolstadt series

The Kölner Haie passed ERC Ingolstadt, 4-1 losers to Hanover, and finished the regular season in fourth position. The Haie squandered a 4-1 lead against the Nürnberg Ice Tigers, but prevailed 5-4 (2-1, 2-3, 0-0, 1-0) after penalty shootout. Tino Boos notched the game-winning goal in the shootout. The 4th-seeded Haie will have home ice advantage against 5th-seeded ERC Ingolstadt in the opening round of the playoffs.

The 3rd-seeded Nürnberg Ice Tigers will face off against the 6th seeded Mannheim Adler.

DEL Playoffs 2005, Opening Round

#1 Frankfurt Lions vs. #8 Hamburg Freezers
#2 Berlin Eisbären vs. #7 Augsburger Panther
#3 Nürnberg Ice Tigers vs. #6 Mannheim Adler
#4 Kölner Haie vs. #5 ERC Ingolstadt

Relegation Series "DEL Playdowns"

#13 Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg vs. #14 Kassel Huskies

All series best-of-seven; Playoffs and relegation series start March 18.
Frank Johne Ultimate Salary Cap Football, the Web's leading market-based fantasy football game! - Canada's biggest online sporting goods retailer!

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