Just as the Barons seemed to have overcome the week-long absence of four top defensemen, injury struck again. As the third absentee Shane Peacock (broken foot) returned to action, fellow-defender Mike Smazal had to leave at the game’s midway point.
Smazal, who celebrated his 28th birthday Sunday, was initially diagnosed with a broken hand after awkwardly hitting the boards. If further examinations confirm the initial diagnosis, Smazal will also miss the Olympic Winter Games at Salt Lake City next month. He was considered a sure pick for the German roster, which will be officially announced later this month.
"I feel sad for Mike,“ Barons head coach Sean Simpson remarked. “He always gives a hundred percent. The injury was tonight’s sad highlight.”
Moreover, Simpson couldn’t feel happy about his team’s sluggish performance. Coming off a 3-2 shootout victory at Nuremberg two days ago, the Barons looked very lethargic for almost two periods against the last-place Moskitos.
With 2126 on hand at Munich’s Olympia-Eisstadion, the Barons fell behind 2-0 after a scoreless first period. Riding on a two-game win streak, Essen showed a lot of confidence.
Seven minutes into the second stanza, Munich conceded a shorthanded goal when Essen’s Todd Hawkins capped a breakaway by hammering a slapshot past Barons netminder Christian Künast from the high slot.
The Moskitos doubled the lead when Craig Woodcroft set up a wide-open Robert Busch at the far post.
Munich managed to respond before the second intermission, though. With just 13 ticks left in the period, David Oliver converted a centering feed from Derek King. The powerplay goal cut Essen’s lead to 2-1.
A much more active Barons team got the well-deserved equalizer 6:28 into the final period. Derek Plante found defender Patrick Köppchen right between the hashmarks. Köppchen didn’t hesitate and ripped a shot past former Blackhawks goalie Jimmy Waite.
With seven minutes to go, a potential game-winner by Oliver was denied by the goalpost.
Tied 2-2 after 60 minutes of regulation, the game had to be decided in a penalty shootout. As on Friday, Oliver drew first blood for the Barons. Essen’s Terry Yake evened the score before Mike Kennedy sealed Munich’s win with the final attempt.Munich Barons - Moskitos Essen 3-2 (0-0, 1-2, 1-0, 1-0) after shootout
Scoring: 0-1 (26:36) Todd Hawkins (Craig Woodcroft, Rick Goldmann - 4:5), 0-2 (37:14) Robert Busch (Craig Woodcroft, Mike Casselman), 1-2 (39:47) David Oliver (Derek King, Derek Plante - 5:4), 2-2 (46:28) Patrick Köppchen (Derek King, Derek Plante).
Winning penalty shot: 3-2 Mike Kennedy.
Penalties: Munich 14, Essen 20.
Attendance: 2,126 (Olympia-Eisstadion, Munich).