Berlin Beat Hamburg, Split D.E.L. Series


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22 x 2 = Hamburg Freezers’ Canadian legionnaire MATT PETTINGER (left), the former University of Denver center who skated 422 NHL games (65 go, 123 pts) mostly for the Washington Capitals, and Eisbaeren Berlin’s American import BARRY TALLACKSON, the former University of Minnesota right wing who skated 20 NHL games (1 go, 2 pts) in parts of four seasons for the New Jersey Devils, jockeying for position in front of the net during the Deutsche Eishockey Liga contest between Anschutz Entertainment Group brother clubs at the sold-out O2 World Arena Berlin near the Ostbahnhof.
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A power play goal ten minutes into the game and shutout netminding the rest of the way was enough to rule on this penalty-filled occasion as defending champion EISBAEREN BERLIN blanked visiting HAMBURG FREEZERS 2-0 in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga’s final installment this season of the epic struggle for ANSCHUTZ ENTERTAINMENT GROUP supremacy.

The contest quickly turned into a parade to the penalty box with, on average, one infraction of the rules stoppig play every three minutes. Eisbaeren Berlin were whistled for ten minor penalties in all while the Hamburg Freezers accumulated ten two-minute minors in the tempermental affair. Setting the tone very early was Hamburg right wing THOMAS OPPENHEIMER, the 24-year-old who was sent off with a minor plus a ten-minute misconduct just 41 seconds into the match for a check to the head.

Less than ten minutes had expired when Eisbaeren Berlin took the lead on what was already its third opportunity with the man-advantage in the match against the Freezers. In-form Canadian legionnaire DARIN OLVER skated along the goalline straight at the net and would need three shots, in all. But the skilled 27-year-old center who topped Eisbaeren Berlin in scoring last season was finally able to elevate the puck past the sprawled Germany national team netminder DIMITRIJ KOTSCHNEW for his ninth goal in the D.E.L. this term at the 9:57 mark of the opening period.

Olver, who led the entire D.E.L. in regular season scoring (48 ga, 23 go, 70 pts) while appearing with Augsburg Panthers during the 2010/11 campaign, is currently enjoying an eight-game streak with at least one point while totaling three goals and eight assists in that productive span.

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Eisbaeren Berlin’s Canadian legionnaire DARIN OLVER (40), the former Northern Michigan University center who was chosen in the second round (# 36 overall) of the 2004 National Hockey League Draft by the New York Rangers, had two shots at point-blank range snuffed out by Hamburg Freezers’ Germany national team goaltender DIMITRIJ KOTSCHNEW before finally finding the back of the net with his third attempt during the Deutsche Eishockey Liga contest watched by the capacity crowd of 14,200 spectators at the O2 World Arena Berlin.
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Olver, the 5’11″ 180-lb pivot who recorded 51 goals and 146 points in 158 NCAA games for Northern Michigan University before signing with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League in the spring of 2007, had his fingerprints all over Eisbaeren’s second goal in the rivalry match with the visiting Hamburg Freezers at the O2 World Arena Berlin, as well.

Roughly four and a half minutes into the second period, Canadian legionnaire MARK KATIC pushed up into the attack and accepted a lovely centering pass from Olver in the slot. A sweeping wrist shot from the Eisbaeren defenseman left the sliding Kotschnew, the 31-year-old who transferred from Russian club Atlant Mytishchi Moscow this past summer and currently sports the third-best goals-against-average in the D.E.L. this season (2.33 avg, .918 svpct, 29 ga) for Hamburg Freezers, no chance whatsoever. The strike afforded Katic, the former New York Islanders prospect who led the all defensemen involved in the 32-team European Trophy tournament with nine points (three goals) earlier this 2012/13 campaign, a fifth goal in the German top flight this term.

Hamburg Freezers poured on the pressure in the third period while outshooting Eisbaeren Berlin 16-5 over the course of the final twenty minutes at the O2 World Arena Berlin. But national team veteran ROB ZEPP, the 31-year-old who has backstopped die Eisbaeren to four D.E.L. titles since arriving from Finnish club Saipa Lappeenranta in the summer of 2007, would not be beaten. The in-form Zepp turned away all 29 of the Freezers shots to fashion his fourth whitewash in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga this season.

Eisbaeren Berlin evened the series with the rival Hamburg Freezers in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga at two games apiece, both teams having gone unbeaten on home ice. Hamburg, however, did triumph in both of the European Trophy tournament matches this past September. Thus, barring any meeting in the playoffs, it appears as if the battle for Anschutz Entertainment Group bragging rights has been effectively settled.

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Eisbaeren Berlin netminder ROB ZEPP (72), who has lowered his season average in the D.E.L. to 2.69 goals-per-game while increasing his save percentage to 92.3% with strong play in his last dozen or so appearances, is one of four shot-stoppers selected by first-year national team trainer Pat Cortina for Germany’s training camp roster in preparation for the Winter Olympic Games Qualification Tournament involving neighboring Austria, Italy and the Netherlands next month in Bietigheim-Bissingen.

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