A 5-4 win on Friday in Straubing pushes EHC up to 9th overall in the DEL standings
EHC Red Bull Munich are on a roll at the moment, having won five consecutive home games. The focus now turns to collecting further championship points away from home. "We've been struggling a bit on the road throughout the season", said head coach Pat Cortina before the game on Friday night in Straubing. "But tonight we're desperate to bring a few points back to Munich."
The game marked a milestone for EHC defender Sören Sturm, who was set to play his 200th DEL game. Sturm has also celebrated making his debut for Germany in a recent friendly against Russia. "It's amazing to be a part of this great club. I'm really enjoying my hockey at the moment, which is also being reflected on the ice", said a smiling Sturm. "Hopefully we can keep up the intensity and further increase the pressure on the top teams in the league."
The opening period was evenly balanced with shots on goal at both ends. The ice arena in Straubing had called on 5,072 fans (close to a sell-out) and they were in for not only for a great game of hockey, but also an amazing seven goal 2nd period.
Straubing's Matthew Hussey opened the scoring in the 21st minute following a crucial mistake by the EHC defence. "We were caught out and forced onto the back foot", said Cortina afterwards. "My team showed great spirit though, and fought their way back into the game", he added. In fact, his team never buckled under Straubing's pressure, opting for the perfect answer instead. Paul Stastny converted a Buchwieser assist for the equaliser, despite being a man down in the 25th minute. Four minutes later, Blake Sloan gave EHC a 2-1 lead with a nice wrist shot goal, sending the away fans from Munich into hockey heaven. Exactly 187 seconds after having taken the lead, EHC's record goal scorer Mike Kompon added a third goal, before Straubing's Andrew Canzanello gave his side new hope, scoring the hosts' second goal six minutes before the end of the 2nd period.
EHC's Swedish defenders Viktor Ekbom and Johan Ejdepalm had other ideas though, both stretching their team's lead further, scoring back-to-back goals to give Munich a 5-2 lead going into the final period.
Straubing started to pepper the EHC goal from all corners of the ice and were rewarded for their efforts when Daniel Sparre (46th minute) and Karl Stewart (56th) scored to bring Straubing back to within one goal. The Tigers pressure was immense but the Red Bulls fought hard to claim three important and much needed points. "We won three crucial championship points tonight", said a relieved Pat Cortina in the post-match press conference. EHC's Martin Hinterstocker spoke of "a hard-fought and deserved win."
The next home game is at 17:45 CET Sunday 23rd December (tonight!) against cellar-dwellers Düsseldorfer EG and with EHC's consistency building, another win is expected of a side pushing towards the top half of the table.