Koelner Haie Beat Eisbaeren Berlin, Back In First Place


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An early goal to set the tone as well as stiffling defensive play throughout the contest enabled visiting KOELNER HAIE to completely thwart two-time defending champion EISBAEREN BERLIN 3-1 and reclaim top spot in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga standings.

For the first time in quite a while, Eisbaeren Berlin dressed more than six natural defenseman and were able to shift Canadian legionnaire JULIAN TALBOT, the 27-year-old left wing who has scored 13 goals all competitons for trainer DON JACKSON’s team this season, back onto a forward line. But Canadian legionnaire JAMIE ARNIEL was forced to miss a game for the first time in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga this term and the second-leading scorer for the capital city club this season, T.J. MULOCK, still has not returned. Furthermore, defenseman FRANK HOERDLER as well as left wing and captain ANDRE RANKEL were both coping with contusions and not operating at full fitness for the hosts.

It was UWE KRUPP’s side who started off fast in this clash of clubs trained by former NHL defensemen each who lifted the coveted Stanley Cup during their respective playing careers. A long home-run pass from Koelner Haie’s imported Swedish defenseman ANDREAS HOLMQVIST, only just beyond his own goal line in the right face-off cirle of the defensive zone, found seasoned Canadian legionnaire NATHAN ROBINSON all alone at the blue line along the left wing. The 31-year-old NHL veteran signed by the Cologne Sharks this past summer from Austrian outfit UPC Vienna Capitals quickly sped in on his former teammate of two years with Eisbaeren Berlin and nimbly backhanded past netminder ROB ZEPP to score his seventh goal in the D.E.L. this term after just three minutes of play.

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Koelner Haie’s seasoned Canadian legionnaire NATHAN ROBINSON (10), the native of Scarborough, Ontario, who collectively skated in seven NHL contests (0 go, 0 pts) for the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins before signing with D.E.L. club Adler Mannheim in the summer of 2006, goes top shelf to beat Eisbaeren Berlin goaltender ROB ZEPP (72) during the Deutsche Eishockey Liga contest at the sold-out O2 World Arena Berlin.
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Eisbaeren Berlin had far more of the opportunities while outshooting their guests 14-8 in the first period but were unable to solve Koelner Haie’s in-form goaltender DANNY AUS DEN BIRKEN. Down at the other end, Germany national team netminder ROB ZEPP would weather a severe storm in the second period as the visitors fired no fewer than 21 shots on target. Koelner Haie center FELIX SCHUETZ, the 25-year-old former Buffalo Sabres farmhand who scored the memorable overtime goal that allowed Germany to knock off the United States in front of a record crowd of 77,803 specatators at the 2010 IIHF World Championships, did shoot a second puck into the net for Koelner Haie in the second period at the O2 World Arena Berlin, but the strike was correctly waved off on account of a crease violation.

No luck on this occasion for Schuetz, who is the second-leading scorer for Koelner Haie this season having already shot 16 goals in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

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Eisbaeren Berlin left wing FLORIAN BUSCH (26) cannot prevent Koelner Haie’s imported Swedish defenseman ANDREAS HOLMQVIST (7), the 31-year-old former second round NHL draft pick (# 61 overall, 2001) of the Tampa Bay Lightning who transferred to the North Rhine-Westphalian club this past summer from IF Djurgarden Stockholm, from winding up for a booming slapshot during the D.E.L. contest at the sold-out O2 World Arena Berlin.
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Nearing the halfway point of the third period, the hosts hauled themselves level and appeared to have made a whole new game of it. Veteran defenseman JENS BAXMANN pushed up into the left face-off circle and effectively one-timed the pass from behind the net by Canadian legionnaire DARIN OLVER, the 27-year-old center who led Eisbaeren Berlin in scoring last season, to net his third goal in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga this term. Finally, the sell-out crowd at the O2 World Arena Berlin had something to shout about.

But this joy would be very short-lived as the visitors did, in fact, regain the lead a scant 55 seconds later. Koelner Haie’s other imported Swedish defenseman, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist DANIEL TJARNQVIST, penetrated deep into the offensive zone on a weaving rush before delivering a perfect centering pass from the left wing. ROK TICAR, the 23-year-old center who scored three goals in five games for Slovenia at the 2011 IIHF World Championships hosted by Slovakia, had no trouble re-directing the puck past Zepp to score his eighth goal of this D.E.L. campaign and immediately silence the disappointed crowd.

Eisbaeren Berlin had one final chance to equalize again when Schuetz picked up a two-minute minor and the accompanying ten-minute misconduct penalty for checking-from-behind with just 2:18 remaining in the match. Not surprisingly, Jackson removed the Eisbaeren goaltender in favor of an extra attacker to provide Berlin with six skaters as compared to the four of Koelner Haie. But this particular gamble did not pay off as veteran defenseman MIRKO LUEDEMANN, the aging 39-year-old rearguard who earlier in his career represented Germany at 12 major international tournaments (63 ga, 5 go, 17 pts) including the 1994, 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympic Games, was able to loft a Borje Salming specialty all the way down the ice for the clinching empty-net goal.

Defending champion Eisbaeren Berlin and serious contender Koelner Haie split the four-game season series, then, with each side having each celebrated both of their victories in the other team’s building.

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Eisbaeren Berlin’s Canadian legionnaire DARIN OLVER (40), the former Northern Michigan University center and New York Rangers’ 2nd round NHL draft pick who led the German capital city club in scoring last season, looks to fake out a very focused Koelner Haie goaltender DANNY AUS DEN BIRKEN (33), the 27-year-old who was a reserve on the Adler Mannheim squad that claimed the D.E.L. title in 2007, during the Deutsche Eishockey Liga contest watched by the sold-out crowd of 14,200 spectators at the O2 World Arena Berlin.

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