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Sweep! Berlin wins first DEL title
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April 20, 2005; 00:39
Sweep! Berlin wins first DEL title
Playoff MVP Erik Cole nets pair of goals in Game 3 win over Mannheim
Frank Johne

Denis Pederson and Steve Walker present the DEL Cup

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Munich, Germany - Erik Cole led the way with a pair of goals as the Berlin Eisbären captured their first-ever DEL Championship Tuesday night with a Game 3 home win over the Mannheim Adler. After falling behind 1-0, the Eisbären scored four unanswered goals to complete their three-game sweep of the Adler en route to the German title.

Germany's playoff MVP Erik Cole netted the championship-winning goal for the Berlin Eisbaren
DEL Playoff MVP Erik Cole netted the championship-winning goal for the Berlin Eisbären
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

Berlin's 4-1 (1-1, 1-0, 2-0) Game 3 victory completed only the second finals sweep in the history of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). In 1997, the Mannheim Adler swept the Kassel Huskies in three games (5-4, 5-2, 4-2) en route to their first of four DEL titles. The Eisbären had come up short in two previous trips to the finals: Holding the top-seed, they were upset by Mannheim in four games in 1998 (0-2, 2-4, 8-7, 1-4). Last year, they were knocked off by the Frankfurt Lions in a dramatic four-game series, (5-2, 2-5, 3-4 OT, 3-4), again coming in with the number one seed.

Momentum turns after back-to-back goals from Cole

A power-play tally from Jochen Hecht put the Adler on the scoreboard first. Berlin evened the score on a short-handed goal by Erik Cole late in the opening period. It was also Cole who netted the eventual game-winning goal on a 5-on-3 advantage with 2:57 remaining in the middle frame, deflecting in a one-timer by Shawn Heins. Berlin, which had struggled on the power-play early on, put the game out of reach in the third with two more goals on the man advantage by Steve Walker and Denis Pederson.

Berlin was 3-for-13 on the power-play while Mannheim went 1-for-4 with the man advantage. Winning goalie Oliver Jonas, who once again started in place of the injured Olaf Kolzig, turned aside 21 of the 22 shots he faced. Mannheim's Cristobal Huet recorded 37 saves on the night as the Eisbären outshot the Adler 41-22.

Erik Cole selected DEL Playoff MVP 2005

Mannheim's Hecht finished as the top scorer in the DEL playoffs with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games.

Cole's two-goal night definitely helped his selection as DEL Playoff MVP 2005. Due to a four-game suspension, the Carolina winger only appeared in 8 playoff games, , tallying a total of 6 points (5 goals, 1 assist).

"This was extremely unexpected", said Cole. "There's a lot of guys on my team that contributed a lot in the playoffs, like Stefan Ustorf, Denis Pederson, Steve Walker or Oliver Jonas, who was great in goal. Everybody contributed a lot. It's great to be part of this team."

Good start for Mannheim

With a capacity crowd of 4,695 on hand at Berlin's Wellblechpalast, Mannheim drew first blood when Jochen Hecht scored on the power-play 7:34 into the contest. He re-directed in a point shot from Yannick Tremblay with the shaft of his stick while Berlin's Shawn Heins was serving a roughing minor.

Berlin's league-leading power-play struggled early on. The Eisbären blew four two-minute power-play chances in the opening period alone. They came close a couple of times. Two shots rang off the woodwork. Adler defender Michael Bakos made a spectacular save on the goal line, kneeling down on the goalline when Heins had goalie Huet already beaten.

"Major boost": Cole scores short-hander

Ironically, it was a short-hander that put Berlin back into the game late in the first. With Pederson serving a hooking minor, Stefan Ustorf skated the puck out of the defensive zone and fed a short pass to Cole, who rushed along the right boards, made his trademark outside move around defenseman Yannick Tremblay and cut to the middle to stuff a low shot past Huet for the 1-1 equalizer 2:40 before the first intermission.

Said Erik Cole: "We were back on heels a little bit and needed something to spark us, we needed a lucky break. I was able to tuck one in there and it was a major boost for us."

Poor refereeing, lack of discipline hurt Mannheim

Mannheim continued to hurt itself with its lack of discipline and also found itself on the wrong end of some controversial calls by referee Thomas Schurr. With Eric Healey already in the sin bin for roughing, Jason Podollan was assessed an obstruction minor after a slight collision with Eisbären goalie Oliver Jonas, who had left his crease to play the puck. The Eisbären cashed in on the ensuing 5-on-3 power-play. Cole re-directed Heins' one-timer from center high past Huet's stick hand to give Berlin a 2-1 lead at the 17:03-mark of the second period. Still on the power-play, Berlin kept pressing, but Mannheim fought hard to take the one-goal deficit into the final intermission.

The Adler caught another bad break early on in the third when an apparent goal by René Corbet was disallowed after video review. Corbet had poked home the puck from under goalie Jonas' glove after a wrap-around attempt by Devin Edgerton. With the game on the line, referee Schurr put Berlin back on the power-play with another controversial call. Adler defender Francois Groleau was assessed a minor after allegedly elbowing Cole near the backboards. Replays showed no movement of Groleau's elbow.

Walker, Pederson put final nails in the coffin

Berlin gratefully took advantage. With another penalty about to be called, Steve Walker scored from the left slot, poking home the rebound after a point shot from Micki DuPont on his backhand to make it 3-1 in favor of the Berlin Eisbären 4:58 into the final stanza. Denis Pederson put the final nail in the coffin with 6:42 remaining. He capped the scoring at 4-1, re-directing in a perfect flip pass by Derrick Walser on the power-play.

The McCarty-experience
"I know what losing in the finals feels like", said Erik Cole, who came up short with the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. "It hurts so bad. I guess it was Darren McCarty who grabbed me after the game and said: 'You gotta get to know the taste of losing first. You'll learn from it and it'll make you so much better. You will profit from it once you get there.' He was right about that."

More quotes

Added 30-year-old Eisbären forward Sven Felski, a native of Berlin, who has been with the club since junior hockey: "It's been such a long wait. I've been fighting for this title for 13 years, it's an overwhelming feeling. We caught some lucky breaks, but also had enough discipline to prevail in the end."

Said Adler head coach Stephane Richer: "I'm very proud of my team. The regular season was very mediocre. It's unbelievable how they've grown together over the past two months. Congrats to the Eisbären. I've played them so often in the postseason. I feel kinda happy for them. They really deserved the win. We took too many penalties. That was the difference. And our two series against Nuremberg and Frankfurt were very exhausting."

Fairchild makes surprise return

Kelly Fairchild, who had missed a couple of games with a pulled muscle, made a surprise return for the Eisbären. Stefan Ustorf left the game early with a knee injury.

Mannheim welcomed back center Christoph Ullmann from a one-game suspension, but had to play without Steve Kelly, who was serving a one-game suspension after his game misconduct penalty in Game 2.
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