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Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne, Mannheim win openers
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März 19, 2005; 14:46
Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne, Mannheim win openers
NHL lockout goalies Huet and Conklin record 40+save nights
Frank Johne

Francois Bouchard's late goal lifted Frankfurt over Hamburg
 
Francois Bouchard's late goal lifted Frankfurt over Hamburg

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Munich, Germany - A last-gasp goal by Francois Bouchard lifted the top-seeded Frankfurt Lions over the 8th-seeded Hamburg Freezers in the opener of their best-of-seven DEL first-round playoff series Thursday. In Friday's action, the 2nd-seeded Berlin Eisbären and 4th-seeded Kölner Haie both had to rally for close home victories. The 6th-seeded Mannheim Adler were the only lower-seeded team to win. Expansion team Wolfsburg blanked Kassel in the opening game of the relegation series.
 

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Cristobal Huet backstopped Mannheim's upset of Nuremberg with 47 saves
Cristobal Huet backstopped Mannheim's upset of Nuremberg with 47 saves
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

Pat Lebeau's late heroics give Frankfurt Lions 1-0 series lead over Hamburg Freezers

Defenseman Francois Bouchard scored on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush with 9 seconds left in the game to lift defending champion Frankfurt Lions over the 8th-seeded Hamburg Freezers, 3-2 (1-0, 1-2, 1-0) at home. The set-up for the game-winning goal was an impressive demonstration of Pat Lebeau's two-time MVP skills. Lebeau went down to block a shot in his defensive zone, got up and took a quick outlet pass from Dwayne Norris. He rushed down the left wing and centered a pass to the crease where Bouchard – coming down the middle of the ice – knocked it past Freezers goalie Boris Rousson.

Rousson had no chance on the goal. He had been perfect to this point, stopping ten shots in relief of starting goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who left the game with circulation problems after 40 minutes. Giguere recorded 24 saves on the 26 shots he faced. Winning netminder Ian Gordon of the Frankfurt Lions turned aside 19 shots.

With 6,600 in attendance at Frankfurt's Eissporthalle, the hosts took a 1-0 lead at 13:58 of the opening frame when Giguere mishandled a shot by Lions defender Peter Ratchuk and Joe Murphy poked home the rebound. Hamburg tied the score at 1-1 when defenseman Shane Peacock one-timed a behind-the-net feed by Robert Francz past Gordon at the 8:52-mark of the second. The Lions regained the lead, 2-1, on a 5-on-3 advantage. With Jacek Plachta (delay of game) and Paul Manning (cross-checking) in the sin bin, Pat Lebeau completed a tic-tac-toe passing play with Dwayne Norris and Doug Weight, banging in the puck at the doorstep with 6:33 to go in the second. Hamburg bounced back, knotting the score at 2-2 on a power-play goal by Plachta. Just seconds after missing the wide-open net, Plachta went top-shelf on Gordon from the right slot 2:18 before the second intermission.

The game went back and forth in the third period before Lebeau's late heroics

Late penalty costs Panthers – "Polar Bears" up 1-0

Denis Pederson scored on the power-play with 4:55 remaining as the 2nd-seeded Berlin Eisbären came from behind to edge the 7th-seeded Augsburger Panther 3-2 (0-1, 1-0, 2-1) at home to take a 1-0 series lead. A bench penalty for too many men on the ice paved the way for Berlin's hard-fought win.

With 4,600 in attendance at the Wellblechpalast, Berlin's high-octane offense could not get much going against the defensive-minded Panthers, who were riding a six-game winning streak coming into the game. Augsburg's goalie Jean-Francois Labbé recorded a 33-save night. Berlin's Olaf Kölzig stopped 11 of the 13 shots he faced.

Augsburg drew first blood when Brian Felsner, who had two goals on the night, tucked home the rebound on an odd-man rush with John Miner. Berlin knotted the score, 1-1, on a two-man advantage midway through the middle frame when defender Derrick Walser fired a deflected shot past Labbé.

Berlin came out pressing in the third and got rewarded when Steve Walker poked in the puck from the slot to make it 2-1 at the 7:33-mark. Augsburg responded and evened the score at 2-2 on Felsner's second tally with 7:39 remaining. But the late bench minor cost them the chance of an upset.

Kelly's late score lifts "Eagles" over Ice Tigers

Steve Kelly's power-play tally at 11:53 of the final period went down as the game-winner as the sixth-seeded Mannheim Adler edged the 3rd-seeded Nürnberg Ice Tigers on the road, 5-4 (2-2, 2-1, 1-1) to take a 1-0 series lead. Kelly buried the rebound of a point shot from Andy Delmore.

Nuremberg showed great poise, erasing four one-goal deficits with 7,186 on hand at Arena Nurnberg. But poor scoring efficiency killed the Tigers, who outshot Mannheim 51-20 on the night. Adler goalie Cristobal Huet made a stunning 47-save effort. Nuremberg's Adam Svoboda allowed five goals on the 20 shots he faced. René Corbet and John Tripp each had a pair of goals for the Adler. Mike Green was Nuremberg's best scorer with a goal and two asssists.

Haie edge ERC in series opener

The 4th-seeded Kölner Haie got third-period goals from Alex Hicks, Tino Boos (PP) and Stephane Julien, who scored an empty-netter in the waning seconds, to hold off 5th-seeded ERC Ingolstadt 4-2 (1-1, 0-0, 3-1) in the opening game of their first round series.

Ingolstadt drew first blood in front of 10,850 spectators at KölnArena when Craig Ferguson struck on the game's first power-play 66 seconds into the contest, deflecting a low shot from Jakub Ficenec past Haie goalie Chris Rogles. Eduard Lewandowski knotted the score at 1-1 with less than five minutes to go in the opening frame. The Haie took their first lead of the game, 2-1, when Ficenec turned over the puck at the opposing blueline and Alex Hicks scored on a 2-1 rush with Dave McLlwain. With under five minutes to go in the game, Ingolstadt's Aaron Ward was assessed a minor plus 10-minute misconduct after a check to the head of Cologne's Jean-Yves Roy. The Haie cashed in on the ensuing power-play. Boos tallied to put the game out of reach at 3-1 with 3:51 remaining. Brad Burym got Ingolstadt back within a goal, 3-2, a minute later. But Julien's empty-netter sealed Cologne's series-opening win.

DEL Playdowns: Wolfsburg up 1-0 after shutout win

Expansion team Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven relegation series Friday. Ty Conklin recorded 41 saves for his first DEL shutout as Wolfsburg blanked the Kassel Huskies 2-0 (1-0, 1-0, 0-0). Andrej Kaufmann and Jan Zurek tallied for the Grizzlies.

The loser of the series will be relegated to Division-2.
Frank Johne

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