Reminiscing about the past is not very conducive in professional sports. Before the first home game of the DEL season against the Grizzlys Wolfsburg, however, extensive retrospectives were part of the warm-up program for the polar bears: before the banner for the ninth championship title was hoisted under the roof of the Mercedes-Benz Arena, the players, club employees and fans were allowed to meet again enjoy the best scenes of the most recent series of finals against RB Munich, in which the Berliners played brilliantly to become champions.
How far the way to the tenth title will be was revealed to the 11,710 spectators immediately afterwards with a nerve-wracking 1:2 (0:0, 0:0, 1:1) from the hosts’ point of view after a penalty shootout. Wolfsburg has been an opponent that the polar bears have struggled with in recent successful seasons.
“They play with a lot of body, always hard,” said Jan Nijenhuis during the first break. And the 21-year-old should know. Along with Julian Melchiori, he made the switch from the Grizzlies to the defending champions this season.
Qualitatively, this duel could not keep up with the past games. Both teams are clearly still in the identification phase and are struggling with the loss of regular staff. With Leo Pföderl, Yannick Veilleux and Brendan Guhle, the Berliners are missing three players with the highest demands. In addition, after a total of twelve arrivals and departures, the upheaval is still in full swing. That was already evident last Sunday at the 2:4 in Nuremberg.
The Berlin passes often did not find the teammate
In concrete terms, this was expressed in many passes that did not find the teammate and discs that jumped. The Berliners created the better chances to score, but lacked the necessary consistency to put the disc in the goal. Bennet Roßmy was close in the first period, Giovanni Fiore shot the puck in the second period after a solo effort on the crossbar, shortly before the second break Eric Mik failed at Wolfsburg goalkeeper Dustin Strahlmeier.
Again and again, the Berliners got in each other’s way or slipped past the puck. On the other hand, however, goalkeeper Tobias Ancicka showed numerous strong reflexes and confirmed his status as number one between the Berlin posts.
The polar bears have recorded arrivals and departures since last season.
In the last third, the situation came to a head again. Because both the Polar Bears and the Grizzlies, who even started the season with two defeats, wanted to prevent a complete false start, there was already a redeeming feeling on this third day of the season.
What Wolfsburg were able to do for themselves when Jean-Christophe Beaudin scored the 1-0 for the guests (50th). After a creative break, however, the Berliners hit back and scored the equalizer in the 57th minute through Marcel Barinka. And so it first took overtime and then the penalty shootout, in which Darren Archibald made Wolfsburg’s victory clear.
Next Sunday, the polar bears will already welcome the newly promoted Frankfurt (2 p.m., Magentasport). Where it will then be a question of finally ticking off the past season and really arriving in this one.
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