Following the departure of NHL stars Blake Wheeler and Paul Stastny at the beginning of last week, EHC Red Bull München had to prove that they could still win following four consecutive defeats in the DEL. Poor hockey and a fair share of bad luck has cost the Red Bulls a spot in the league's top 8 over the past few weeks. "We urgently need to turn it around and gather momentum again", said Pat Cortina during the week. The weekend saw München travel to Nürnberg on Friday before returning to home ice for their match against Krefeld Penguins.
Without injured Ekbom and Hinterstocker, as well as banned Sturm (third major penalty), München travelled to Nürnberg and started well, taking a 1-0 lead through a Dibelka goal on a powerplay in the 11th minute. While in recent weeks München's powerplay performance has slumped, the Red Bulls showed great efficiency when denying Nürnberg a goal during their 6 powerplays in the opening 40 minutes. München added a second goal in the 39th minute, on a powerplay of course, with Brent Aubin scoring his fourth goal of the season following nice assists by Ejdepalm and Cespiva.
Going into the final period, Nürnberg threw everything they had at EHC. With a little over 5 minutes left in the game, Nürnberg's Reimer scored to make it 2-1, before two minutes later Ehliz's strike fortunately found the back of the net after a deflection, levelling the game.
With no goals scored in overtime, a penalty shootout was to decide the game. Jason Jaspers eventually scored with Nürnberg's sixth attempt to give the Ice Tigers a 3-2 win on penalties.
"We did great the first 40 minutes, but Nürnberg showed great character and fought their way back into the game. Overall we battled hard for 65 minutes, but only took one point. It's tough, but that's hockey", resumed EHC coach Cortina following the game.
On Sunday, EHC welcomed 3,022 fans at Oberwiesefeld for their encounter against high-flying Krefeld Penguins. Krefeld's fourth best scorer, Christian Ehrhoff, has also returned to America for the upcoming NHL season. With Ehrhoff, Krefeld proved all the critics right and took top spot in the league rankings going into the new year. München, on the other hand, were desperately trying to hold on to a playoff spot. München were weakened again through the absence of Hinterstocker, Ekbom, Morris and Weber and so handed DEL debuts to Tobias Biersack and Florian Stauder (both on loan from EC Peiting).
Seven minutes into the game, Krefeld's Ordendorz scored the opening goal. Krefeld played powerful and fast paced hockey and went on to add a second goal another seven minutes later through Driendl on a power play. "It's tough at the moment after being used to having Blake (Wheeler) and Paul (Stastny) by your side", said a clearly frustrated Martin Buchwieser at the end of the first break. Interestingly enough, Buchwieser has not scored since the departure of both NHL players.
Cortina must have found the right words at half time as EHC came out firing in the second period. Maurer scored his fifth goal of the season in the 24th minute and gave his side some much needed momentum. Spurred on by the support of their fans, München found the equaliser in the 28th minute through Kathan. "That was a great 20 minutes of hockey", said EHC captain Petermann. He went on to add, "Hopefully we can keep it together and carry on like that in the final period."
Both teams had their chances to close the game out in the third period, but both Langkow and Steinhauer in goal (Reimer was forced off the ice after the first 20 minutes due to illness) made some great saves to keep the scores level. Following a scoreless five minute period of overtime, Mike Kompon scored with München's fifth attempt to give the Red Bulls their first win in five games. "We have finally ended our losing streak. We desperately needed some points and a good result", said a clearly relieved Pat Cortina after the game. "The boys kept their heads up even after Reimer had left the ice. We only allowed very few shots on goal tonight and found a way to bring home the goods."
München took 3 of a possible 6 points from their two games on the weekend, leaving them in 10th position (50pts) in the DEL standings.
EHC will travel to Ingolstadt on Friday before their next home game on Sunday (January 20th) to face 5th placed German record champions Berlin Eisbären at 16:30 CET.