BERLIN – Nine days after surprising Finland’s dominate team, Kärpät Oulu, in the Champions Hockey League, Eisbären Berlin is back into its domestic league schedule.
The German champion will play a home game on Friday against last year’s regular season winner Sinupret Ice Tigers Nuremberg. The Ice Tigers are off to a bad start, ranked 11th and on a two-game losing streak.
“The last days without a game were a bit boring for us,” Eisbären head coach Don Jackson said after the Thursday practice. “On Friday, it will mainly be a mental thing. We must be ready and have to play the game the same way as we did before the break. We must be focused from the beginning.”
The team has to do without injured players Richie Regehr (broken finger), Florian Busch (wrist injury) and Brandon Smith (shoulder surgery) but Jackson can count on René Kramer, who’s back in the line-up. The coaching staff also tried to work on the power play lines after the injuries.
After four DEL games in nine days, Eisbären will have its next CHL game in Russia against European club champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk on October 29th.DEL notebook:
- German national team goalie Dimitri Pätzold left KHL club Vityaz Chekhov after playing only 52 minutes in 16 games. He signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Scorpions.
- Scorpion Tino Boos was suspended for the next three games after a check to the head.
- Eisbären Berlin leads in league attendance with an average of 14,200 fans thanks to their new arena. Friday’s home game is a near sell-out. Berlin is followed by Adler Mannheim (11,270) and Kölner Haie (11,175).
- Kölner Haie is near the bottom of the DEL. At least the ‘Sharks’ left the last place in the standings after winning against now last-placed Füchse Duisburg.
- When it rains, then it pours in Cologne. Kölner Haie lost veteran Dave McLlwain to a back injury.
- The Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg are the big surprise of the season. Normally near the bottom of the standings, the club from the Volkswagen city is currently in second place behind leader Krefeld Pinguine, another surprise.
- Wolfsburg’s Justin Papineau is the DEL’s scoring leader and found his happiness after an unlucky 2007-2008 season with his Swiss team EHC Basel, which was relegated from the top league. He had eight goals and 13 assists in 12 games. The next three players in the scoring stats are from Wolfsburg as well: Norm Milley, Ken Magowan and Jason Ulmer.
- The Grizzly Adams had the best offence of the league so far with 54 goals. Eisbären Berlin might hope the saying “offence wins games, defence championships” comes true as they have only 17 goals against.