The Adler will host Game 2 of the best-of-five series at Friedrichspark Sunday.
Mannheim jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead but then invited Berlin back into the game with their lack of indiscipline. The Eisbären scored four unanswered power-play goals to go up 4-2 early in the third period. A goal by Yannick Tremblay midway through the third gave Mannheim some hope, but a breakaway goal by Walker sealed the deal with under three minutes to go.
"We were here last year and won the first game too", said Berlin's captain Steve Walker, who had a total of three points on the night. "It doesn’t matter who scores as long as we have more goals at the end of the night. "
Berlin went 4-for-8 on the power-play while Mannheim was 0-for-3. The Eisbären outshot the Adler 55-20 over three periods. Winning netminder Oliver Jonas turned aside 17 shots while Mannheim's Cristobal Huet made 50 saves on the 55 shots he faced.
With a capacity crowd of 4,695 on hand, the visiting Mannheim Adler managed to carry the momentum of Tuesday's Game 5 semifinal win over defending champion Frankfurt Lions into Game 1 of the finals. Christoph Ulmann went top-shelf on Oliver Jonas' glove hand after a backhanded behind-the-net pass from Fabio Carciola to give the Adler a 1-0 lead 6:58 into the tilt. Mannheim doubled the lead only 39 seconds later. On a rush, René Corbet's shot missed wide left. Jochen Hecht gained control of the puck in the left corner and played a centerig pass through the crease. The puck went by Jonas and defenseman Nate Dempsey and Corbet tucked it home from the opposing goal post.
Berlin came alive late in the opening period. Mannheim caught a couple of breaks when shots from Richard Müller and Stefan Ustorf (twice) rang off the framework. The Eisbären eventually found the back of the net on the man advantage. With Adler defenseman Michael Bakos in the sin bin for tripping, Mark Beaufait scored into the wide open net from the left slot after a blast from Erik Cole from the high left slot took a funny bounce off the backboards to cut Mannheim's lead to 2-1 with 1:14 left in the first.
With momentum on their side, the Eisbären kept pressing for the equalizer, outshooting Mannheim 30-3 in the second period alone. After wasting a 91-second 5-on-3 advantage early in the middle frame, Berlin knotted the score on another power-play opportunity at 10:46 of the second period. With Devin Edgerton serving a hooking minor, Derrick Walser faked a slapshot from center point and passed the puck to a wide-open Denis Pederson near the left goal post, who had no trouble finding the back of the net to knot the score at 2-2.
Berlin kept going. With 3:07 to go in the middle stanza, Pederson scored his second power-play goal to give the Eisbären their first lead of the night, 3-2, knocking the second rebound past Huet from the slot after a blueline shot from Florian Keller while Jason Podollan was serving a charging penalty.
Mannheim's lack of indiscipline invited Berlin to add on to its lead. Ullmann got ejected four minutes into the final stanza with a butt-ending major plus game misconduct. Seconds later, Bakos was assessed a roughing minor. This time, the Eisbären cashed in on the two-man advantage. Beaufait passed the puck through the crease to Steve Walker who squeezed it between the diving Huet and the right post to extend Berlin's lead to 4-2 at the 4:51-mark.
Defender Yannick Tremblay gave the Adler some hope. Off an offensive zone face-off win, he one-timed a slighty deflected shot from center point past Jonas to the Eisbären lead to 4-3 with 8:36 to go.
Steve Walker put the game out of reach with his second goal of the night. After a neutral zone turnover by Mannheim's Andy Delmore, Walker scored on the breakaway, lifting a backhanded shot over Huet's glove hand to make it 5-3 with 2:29 left.