Defending Champions Defeat League Leaders In Cologne – Again


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Two goals from the suddenly in-form Danish import and shutout goaltending over the final two periods from the veteran netminder enabled the visitors to rally from an early deficit as visiting two-time defending champion EISBAEREN BERLIN defeated hosting league leader KOELNER HAIE 4-1 in this Deutsche Eishockey Liga clash of titans.

American trainer DON JACKSON had called for more emotion and intensity from Eisbaeren Berlin, who had fallen to seventh place in the D.E.L. standings after not having played a domestic league match last weekend, in the wake of the loss to Austrian club UPC Vienna Capitals in the quarterfinal of the Red Bull Salute – European Trophy Finals. The D.E.L. encounter with the table-toppers Koelner Haie away at the Lanxess Arena in North Rhine-Westphalia would, of course, prove itself to be a stiff challenge for Jackson’s charges. And, of course, Eisbaeren Berlin were in very real danger of experiencing defeat for a fifth time in its last six contests.

And, as has been the case all season long, Eisbaeren Berlin had manpower issues both on the blue line as well as elsewhere. Once again, the versatile Canadian legionnnaire JULIAN TALBOT was deployed on defense by Jackson. In the continued absence of Canadian legionnaire MATT FOY, the veteran NHL forward who also missed the Red Bull Salute tournament in Vienna last week as a result of injured ribs, the defending German champions dressed only 17 skaters for the D.E.L. contest with former Germany national team trainer UWE KRUPP’s Koelner Haie.

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Koelner Haie forward ALEXANDER WEISS (43), the 25-year-old former Eisbaeren Berlin youth team product who is in his second season with the table-topping North Rhine-Westphalian club now, skips into the air during the penalty-filled Deutsche Eishockey Liga contest with his former employers at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne.
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Koelner Haie, for its part, were without Germany national team left wing PHILIPP GOGULLA, the former Buffalo Sabres farmhand who ranks fifth on Krupp’s club in scoring this season with 20 points (nine goals) from 26 D.E.L. contests.

This, however, did not prevent the hosts from taking the lead when a low shot from along the boards by seasoned Canadian legionnaire CHARLIE STEPHENS, the 31-year-old now in his seventh campaign of Deutsche Eishockey Liga competition, eluded both the traffic in front as well as Eisbaeren Berlin goaltender ROB ZEPP almost nine minutes into the festive match at the Lanxess Arena .

Stephens’ seventh goal of this D.E.L. season allowed the veteran center who once skated at total of eight National Hockey League games (0 go, 2 pts) for the Colorado Avalanche, to assume the current scoring lead for Koelner Haie with 27 points, exactly one ahead of imported defenseman ANDREAS HOLMQVIST (6 go, 20 as), the 31-year-old who was acquired by Krupp’s team this past summer from Swedish club IF Djurgarden Stockholm.

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Prior to the current three-game goal-scoring streak now being enjoyed by MADS CHRISTENSEN (60), the diminutive center who has represented Denmark at five major international tournaments in his career (29 ga, 9 go, 12 pts), a full eighteen contests had come and gone since Eisbaeren Berlin had last gotten a goal from the former Iserlohn Roosters skater who originally arrived in Germany after leaving IK SonderjyskE in the summer of 2009.
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Significantly, the defending champions responded a scant 25 seconds after falling behind the league leaders at the Lanxess Arena. Eisbaeren Berlin’s Canadian legionnaire MARK KATIC, the 23-year-old, former New York Islanders prospect who finished as the top scoring defenseman for the entire 2012 European Trophy tournament with nine points in as many matches, found Danish import MADS CHRISTENSEN in the slot with an airborne pass. Although the 25-year-old’s back was to the net, a spin-around move and accurate wrist shot right over the glove of Koelner Haie goaltender DANNY AUS DEN BIRKEN after the puck had been settled silenced the majority of the 15,234 spectators on hand. The goal not only evened the game, but marked a third consecutive contest in which Christensen, who had entered having netted just three times in 21 D.E.L. matches this season, had lit the lamp for Eisbaeren Berlin.

Roughly a minute later, however, the visitors initiated a parade to the penalty box which began when youthful right wing LAURIN BRAUN was whistled for charging and would include two separate trips to the sin bin by the Eisbaeren Berlin goal-scorer Christensen, himself.

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Canadian legionnaire MARK KATIC (71), the 23-year-old defenseman who skated 11 NHL games for the New York Islanders before signing with Eisbaeren Berlin this past summer, and veteran Koelner Haie captain JOHN TRIPP (21), the 35-year-old Germany national team veteran who contested nine NHL games for the New York Rangers exactly a decade ago, watch as Swedish import ANDREAS FALK (71) fails to score during the Deutsche Eishockey Liga match at the Lanxess Arena in North Rhine-Westphalia.
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Krupp’s club made several legitimate efforts to cash in on all the power play time but would be frustrated by both bad luck and sensational goaltending. Both chances involved the unfortunate import ANDREAS FALK, the 29-year-old center who just signed in the summer after having won two Elitserien titles in six seasons with Swedish side HV 71 Jonkoping. Despite having racked up 19 assists in his first 27 matches in the German top flight, the snake-bit Falk still has only managed to score just one goal for his new Koelner Haie club this term.

First, a shot from seemingly-cursed Falk clanked off the iron and then, roughly a minute and a half later, Zepp outright robbed the Swedish center after an outstanding passing play started by experienced Canadian legionnaire NATHAN ROBINSON, the well-traveled, 30-year-old former Eisbaeren Berlin forward who arrived from Austrian club UPC Vienna Capitals this past summer.

The game changed forever, though, when Koelner Haie carelessly lost possession of the puck near their own blue line with less than a minute to play in the opening period. The lurking Braun took charge of the little black disc and patiently waited to find Christensen. Rather than shoot right away, the Danish import also wisely waited, went the wide route and drew aus den Birken out of position enough to lift a short-sided wrist shot into the net and give Eisbaeren Berlin a 2-1 lead with just 49 seconds left until the first intermission.

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Eisbaeren Berlin’s Denmark international center MADS CHRISTENSEN (60) celebrates his second goal of the game at the expense of Koelner Haie netminder DANNY AUS DEN BIRKEN (33) and fifth strike of this 2012/13 D.E.L. season during the first period of the German top flight contest at the Lanxess Arena in North Rhine-Westphalia.
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The hosts were lucky not to have fallen behind by a pair of goals after the point shot of Eisbaeren Berlin’s Germany national team defenseman FRANK HOERDLER bounced harmlessly off the lower right post early into the second period … but the fortunes of Koelner Haie did take a radical turn for the worse just about four minutes later.

Eisbaeren Berlin left wing FLORIAN BUSCH, the 26-year-old who was a member of Germany’s 2006 Olympic squad at the 2006 Winter Games hosted by Turin in Italy, led a rink-length rush before gaining the zone and dealing the puck to American import BARRY TALLACKSON on the right wing. The Koelner Haie goaltender made the save from the shot by the former University of Minnesota forward who won two NCAA national championships with the Golden Gophers in his college career and was named the MVP of the D.E.L. playoff final series for the German capital city club last spring. But, to the home side’s peril, the rebound appeared to riccochet off the skate of the eagerly on-rushing, imported American defenseman JIMMY SHARROW and definitely ended up in the back of the net at the 7:54 mark of the second period.

It was a controversial play, to be certain, and one that the two match referees reviewed with the video equipment at the bench for quite some time before finally deciding to award the goal. After having been the victim of an astonishing decision on the first goal scored in the Red Bull Salute quarterfinal match against Austrian club UPC Vienna Capitals on their last outing, it may have been a case of bad calls evening themselves out over the course of a long season. Whatever the case, Sharrow’s second goal in the D.E.L. this term afforded Eisbaeren Berlin a 3-1 advantage as the whistles of disapproval came in abundance from the large crowd at the Lanxess Arena.

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Eisbaeren Berlin’s imported American JIMMY SHARROW, the native of Framingham, Massachusetts, who was selected out of Canadian junior hockey by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fourth round (#110 overall) of the 2003 National Hockey League Draft, led all defensemen from the 32 teams who participated in the 2012 European Trophy tournament this season with five goals scored.
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A little over halfway through the contest with visiting Eisbaeren Berlin, the hosts received a fourth power play of the game when Tallackson skated off to the box for cross-checking. But Koelner Haie were foiled yet again by the effectient penalty-killing of the visitors, which included both organized defense as well as solid goalkeeping by the veteran Zepp. And so, despite having outshot their guests 23-19 over the first forty mintues of play, Krupp’s club found itself trailing by two goals when the second intermission began.

Almost six minutes into the final period, Sharrow handed Koelner Haie a fifth opportunity of the match with the man-advantage by drawing a charging penalty. But, again, Eisbaeren Berlin were more than equal to the task at hand. And so, perhaps, the hosts became even more desperate than ever when Hoerdler went to the sin bin at the 48:22 mark of the D.E.L. match.

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And even more forgetful about defending on the power play, then, because Eisbaeren Berlin’s star Canadian legionnaire DANNY BRIERE was permitted to collect a long clearance from Sharrow near the Koelner Haie blue line, then. A sharp, rising shot from the locked-out NHL exile gave the visitors a shorthanded goal just 13 seconds into Hoerdler’s penalty for high-sticking as well as a commanding 4-1 lead on the scoreboard. It was a seventh strike in the German elite league for the 35-year-old veteran who has totaled 330 goals both regular season and playoffs, combined, in the vaunted National Hockey League.

Koelner Haie would actually have still one more chance on the power play when Eisbaeren Berlin’s long-serving defenseman JENS BAXMANN also picked up a two-minute penalty for high-sticking at 9:48 of the third period but that was negated when the Swedish import Falk was punished for hooking just three seconds later.

Krupp’s club wound up outshooting their guests 33-26 but were, once again, unable to adequately deal with Zepp, who, to review, posted a shutout in his last appearance at the Lanxess Arena earlier this season. The Eisbaeren Berlin netminder has noticeably improved after registering a .909 save percentage after his first 16 appearances in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga this season. Over Zepp’s last eight games in the D.E.L., the 31-year-old veteran has turned aside 290 of 307 shots faced for a far better .945 save percentage.

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Eisbaeren Berlin’s star Canadian legionnaire DANNY BRIERE, the exiled Philadelphia Flyers right wing who is now tied for the scoring lead on the German capital city club with 28 points in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, celebrates his back-breaking, shorthanded goal in the third period against Koelner Haie at the Lanxess Arena.
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The decisive victory over Koelner Haie proved to be the first win outside of the O2 World Arena Berlin for the two-time defending Deutsche Eishockey Liga champions after five consecutive losses on the road in all competitions. Of course, the schedule for Eisbaeren Berlin has been brutal as of late with Jackson’s troops having skated 12 of the their last 16 contests away from their regular home rink near the German capital city’s Ostbahnhof. Even further, Eisbaeren have been the visitors in five of their last six matches.

Eisbaeren Berlin’s last win away win had been the 3-0 shutout over the very same Koelner Haie club back on November 18.

The pyschologically-important triumph also lifted Eisbaeren Berlin back into fifth place as a Sunday home tie with the visiting Straubing Tigers, who have beaten the reigning D.E.L. titlists in the previous two engagements earlier this season, awaits …

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Koelner Haie captain JOHN TRIPP (21), the aging veteran who also skated 34 NHL games for the Los Angeles Kings during the 2003/04 campaign, throws snow alongside Eisbaeren Berlin goaltender ROB ZEPP (72) during the Deutsche Eishockey Liga contest witnessed by 15,234 spectators at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, North Rhine-Westhphalia.

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