EHC Red Bulls' winning streak at home came to an end after six games after the visiting Hamburg Freezers showed no mercy, inflicting a convincing a 5-1 win on the Red Bulls.
It was the first game since November 2nd that neither NHL import was on the ice for München and some many feared the worst upon realizing that both #11 Stastny as well as #27 Wheeler were absent against a strong outfit from Hamburg. Wheeler and Stastny, both spending some time with their family back home, will return to the ice for EHC on January 4th against Adler Mannheim. Although Kavanagh and Ekbom also missed the game due to injury, Brent Aubin finally made his comeback after 10 weeks out due to a concussion. Tonight was a test of character for the rest of the team, a chance to show just how much they have learned from their two NHL imports and how well they can perform without their impact on the game.
A crowd of 3,909 enthusiastic supporters turned out at Oberwiesenfeld for the last home fixture of 2012 between fourth-placed Hamburg and Munich (7th), with both desperate for additional championship points.
Following an evenly balanced opening five minutes, Hamburg took the initiative and scored on the counter-attack thanks to a Flaake effort. A much-disgruntled Pat Cortina later labelled the goal as "totally unnecessary", before adding "a simple interchange-error cost us dearly."
München had the chance to even the scores only a minute later but a backhand shot from close range went over the crossbar. It appears as if EHC enjoy to be put under pressure early on because it was only then, they came out and attempted to turn the game in their favour. They rained shots in on goal during various power play opportunities, but it seemed as if the Red Bulls were not only missing their star imports, but also the Midas touch in front of goal.
Half way through the second period, back-to-back goals by Flaake and Krämmer stretched Hamburg's lead to three, before EHC's Swedish defender Ejdepalm gave München new hope, scoring from just inside the blue line. Freezers' goaltender Kotschnew looked a little out of place for a moment or two and Ejdepalm's shot found its way past him into the left-hand side of the goal, much to the delight of München's supporters.
Unfortunately, hope faded soon after when Hamburg's man of the match Oppenheimer scored from a Jakobsen assist with a minute to go before the 2nd intermission.
Hamburg displayed simple but effective hockey and continued their onslaught early in the final period. In the 44th minute, Oppenheimer added his second goal of the night thanks to a nice assist from Dolak on the ring wing. München struggled to keep up with their opponents and it was only thanks to Reimer in goal that the final scoreline remained at 5-1.
EHC not only lacked their NHL glitz and glamour tonight, but most notably their aggression and precision on the ice, both of which have made them so successful in recent weeks.
After their upcoming trip to Wolfsburg to face the Grizzly Adams on Sunday December 30th, EHC Red Bull München will return to home ice on January 4th 2013 at 19:30 CET against league leaders Adler Mannheim. It will sure be an NHL showdown with Mannheim currently posting four NHL players of their own (Seidenberg, Hecht, Goc, Pominville), while Stastny and Wheeler also return for EHC. Don't miss it!