The Nuremberg Ice Tigers, the team that kicked Munich out of first place on Tuesday, actually helped them reclaim the top spot by beating defending champion Adler Mannheim 1-0 at home.
With one game remaining in the regular season, the Barons are one win away from gaining the top seed, which guarantees home-ice advantage throughout the postseason, and from setting a new DEL regular season point record. Herter makes another comeback
“It’s a great feeling;” defenseman Jason Herter said. “We gotta have fun with it right now. Iserlohn’s not gonna be an easy game. Those guys fight hard. Halfway through the year, they were in last place and they’ve made a big step. I think we’re the only team they haven’t beat since they’ve been in existence. And they’ll fight hard against us
Herter, who’s been hampered by a knee injury since last fall and only played 18 games this season, made his first appearance since late January.
“I think my knee feels pretty good right now,” Herter added. “I went out tonight to test it. I’m just happy to be out there with the guys. But ice hockey’s different than just walking around or training on a bike, it’s really stressful. Of course, I can’t get in playoff shape right now. That’s something I gotta live with. I think a have to take on a little bit of a new role and I’ve gotta do it well.”Panthers waste early chances
Needing every point to stay in the playoff race, the Panthers were willing to take the offense from early on. They even had a 60-second two-man advantage midway through the first, but couldn’t capitalize.
“It was a tight game till the end,” Panthers head coach Danny Naud remarked. “The Barons were cleverer, they scored their goals, easy goals. I’m content with the performance of my team, though. We’re just not fortunate enough to convert our chances. Otherwise, the game could have ended 3-3.
With only six ticks remaining in the opening period and the teams skating four aside, the Barons claimed the lead. On a counterattack, a shot by David Oliver from the left faceoff circle got blocked by a Panthers defenseman. Oliver reacted quickly, though, and centered the puck to defenseman Hans Lodin who one-timed it past netminder Magnus Eriksson from between the hashmarksPeacock and Schubert extend Munich’s lead
Lodin’s defensive linemate Shane Peacock doubled the lead on the powerplay 7:29 into the middle frame. From the right faceoff circle, Johan Rosen fed the puck across to Peacock who blasted it past Eriksson from the far left slot.
Just a minute later, Mike Kennedy could have added another one after a terrific long pass from Mike Smazal. His breakaway was denied by Eriksson, though.
So it was up to a defender to come up with Munich’s third tally of the night. Christoph Schubert lifted a wrister at the net from the right point. The puck slowly sailed past the well-screened Panthers goalie to give the Barons a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the final period.
The Panthers tried to put on a rally and their efforts paid off when defenseman Jakub Ficenec knocked the rebound of Christian Lukes’ shot past Barons netminder Boris Rousson. But although Augsburg kept on pressing, Munich managed to hang on to the 3-1 win thanks to solid defense and great goaltending from Rousson.
“It would be important to finish the regular season in first place,” Barons captain Simon Wheeldon explained before Sunday’s final game at Iserlohn- “We gotta try to avoid Krefeld as long as possible. We have never won there.”Munich Barons - Augsburg Panther 3-1 (1-0, 2-0, 0-1)
Scoring: 1-0 (19:54) Hans Lodin (David Oliver, Shane Peacock - 4:4), 2-0 (27:29) Shane Peacock (Johan Rosén, Derek Plante - 5:4), 3-0 (38:49) Christoph Schubert (Peter Douris, Simon Wheeldon), 3-1 (49:47) Jakub Ficenec (Quinn Hancock, Christian Lukes).
Penalties: Munich 24, Augsburg 22
Attendance: 5,673 (Olympia-Eisstadion, Munich).