BERLIN – Eisbären Berlin capped its successful season by defending the German title. They beat Düsseldorf 3-1 in the DEL final.
The team entered a new chapter this year by moving from the east part of Berlin to the centre in the 14,200-seat O2 World.
The team’s appearance in the Champions Hockey League was also a moderate success. Even though Berlin didn’t make it to the semi-finals, they beat Finnish powerhouse Kärpät Oulu twice and finalist Metallurg Magnitogorsk once, giving them the sixth-best record in the 12-team group stage.
From a commercial perspective, the club was also a success. Eisbären averaged 14,083 fans in the post-season and 13,736 in the regular season, becoming the second-best attended hockey team in Europe.
After winning the regular season, the Eisbären beat the Hamburg Freezers 4-0 in the first round and Adler Mannheim 3-1 in the semi-finals.
In the final series they met the DEG Metro Stars Düsseldorf, which had two series that went the full distance in the quarterfinal against Krefeld Pinguine and against the Hannover Scorpions.
Eisbären edged DEG 3-2 in Game 1, but lost in Düsseldorf 3-1, despite a 44-18 shots edge. Eisbären regained the lead with a 5-1 victory on home ice.
At home in Game 4, Adam Courchaine scored twice for Düsseldorf for the 2-0 lead, the second a shorthander. Eisbären turned the game with four straight goals from Tyson Mullock, Steve Walker, Andrew Roach and Nathan Robinson.
“Düsseldorf made it very difficult for us, so we’re extremely glad to win the title,” said Eisbären forward Sven Felski, who already played with the club during DDR times. “Each championship has its own characteristics.”
Berlin won its fourth title since the German Reunification, the fourth in five years. The club which played once a two-team league in East Germany is the only team from the East which survived in the DEL but it left 15 other teams behind them again.
After landing in Berlin, the team celebrated with over 1,000 fans at the arena on Thursday morning but the big party will be on Saturday. At 12:30, a parade will start at Kurfürstendamm to a photo session at the famous Brandenburg Gate, followed by a reception at the town hall with the Mayor of Berlin and ending at the arena at about 17:00.
The key to success in the new arena was already built during the years before. The owner invested much money to move to the O2 World with a successful and well-established team. It’s a combination of German top player, of imports which have been with the team for years and of young players coming from one of the most successful junior organizations of the country.Notebook:
- Nine players have won all four titles. The old faction of Sven Felski, Stefan Ustorf, Mark Beaufait and captain Steve Walker, as well as a U24 quintet of Jens Baxmann, Florian Busch, Frank Hördler, Andre Rankel and Youri Ziffzer.
- For Beaufait the game in Düsseldorf was his last. “I have the feeling that it’s time for me to resign,” the 38-year-old said.
- Head coach Don Jackson led his team to the second championship in his second season. Before moving to the capital, he was coaching Düsseldorf.
- Düsseldorf had a full house with 13,376 fans in the last game. It was the first sell-out since moving to the new arena three years ago.
- DEG hasn’t won the title since 1996. Since then, they qualified two times for the final (2006 & 2009) and lost both times to Eisbären.
- While the Eisbären team was well-balanced, DEG players Brandon Reid (21), Shane Joseph (17) and Adam Courchaine (16) were the top-three post-season scorers. Eisbären Berlin defenceman Andrew Roach followed in sixth place. The league scoring title was won by Wolfsburg’s Jason Ulmer with 17 goals and 47 assists in 52 games.
- Eisbären will begin the season with most of the players from the championship team. However, Nathan Robinson has signed with Adler Mannheim.
- Eisbären Berlin is the only of the 12 teams of the inaugural Champions Hockey League which won the national championship and which is set for the CHL Group Stage. Six other CHL teams earned a spot in the qualification: Slavia Prague, Espoo Blues, Salavat Yulayev Ufa, Slovan Bratislava, Linköpings HC and SC Bern.
- Eisbären had also some support from the Hannover Scorpions. Thanks to Eisbären also finishing in first place in the playoffs, the Scorpions will play in the CHL Qualification as the second-ranked team of the regular season.