BERLIN – It was love at first puck, at least that’s what newspaper Berliner Zeitung declared after the first DEL game in Berlin’s new state-of-the-art arena, O2 World. A Berlin record crowd of 14,200 was treated to an 11-0 victory by their Eisbären team in a game against previously undefeated Augsburger, dethroning them as league leader.
The Berliner Kurier wrote that it was not just a hockey party, it was, “the most ultimate, lunatic, outstanding, sensational, gorgeous and amazing hockey party ever.”
The opening weekend of the multi-use facility was also rocking with a concert from Metallica and German singer Herbert Grönemeyer.
Eisbären moved from the outdated Wellblechpalast in the Eastern outskirts of town to the O2 World in the city centre, a stone’s throw from the old Berlin Wall. The move was well timed with the Champions Hockey League beginning in just a few weeks.
Prior to the first CHL face-off in the arena, Eisbären will play an exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Lightning before the Lightning play the NHL season opener against the New York Rangers in Prague.
The Eisbären hymn echoed through the big building, as the signal to drop the historic first puck. It was the American defenceman Deron Quint, who scored the first goal at 5:14. Nobody had dreamed that it would just be the start of an offensive firestorm. What was expected to be a tight game, ended in a lopsided 11-0 win for the host, which held a 5-0 lead after the first period.
The Berliners enjoyed the event, as more and more from the West came to the game of the former city rival. They were mixed in with die-hard Eisbären fans chanting “East Berlin!” while pizza, popcorn and the local speciality, curry sausages, were sold. The beer could be put into the cup holder between the seats, a true cinema feeling in Berlin’s new home of hockey.
It was the largest Eisbären victory since joining the DEL after the reunification of Germany and it was the second-largest win in league history. Players and staff were amazed by the atmosphere.
The reigning champion is now the only DEL team with 12 points in four games, with a 20-4 goal advantage. However, not everyone went home happy after the arena opener as two Eisbären players were injured. André Rankel left the ice with a rib injury while Nathan Robinson strained a thigh but the club expects to line-up both in the next game against Hannover Scorpions.
Eisbären Berlin’s Denis Pederson (right) against Augsburg’s Brett Engelhardt. Photo: Eisbären Berlin/City-Press