Freezers On Verge of DEL Cup After Going Up 2-0 Over Berlin
Get ready Hamburg. Your team the Hamburg Freezers need 1 more win to complete their date with destiny. Your team needs only 1 more win and you can brag to being the DEL 2013 Cup Champions. (EA Sports Totallyserioussports.com version)
Game 1 Hamburg Freezers 3-2 Over Eisbaren Berlin
From the beginning, as always we thought it would come down to the goaltending. John Curry for Hamburg was solid all year, but in the playoffs he has been a question mark. It has not been all his fault as his defense has done a solid job of letting him down. The Berlin goalie Rob Zepp, (known to fans as “Led Zepp-elin) was widely considered the best goalie in the DEL this year. In the playoffs, with a GAA of just over 2 he had been very solid. In the DEL Finals game 1 he was good but Curry was the guy that we saw during the regular season and not the playoffs. He made some timely 3rd period saves, including stopping Barry Tallackson late in the 3rd period from the slot to preserve the victory for Hamburg.
Game 1 got off to a quick start for the Berlin with a goal from Serge Felski. Florian Busch had a great pass to the point and Felski delivered a hard shot beating Curry. Busch was also strong for Berlin, as he seemed to be in control of the puck all over the ice. Hamburg was able to answer quickly though with a nice goal carried through the slot by Serge Aubin. Aubin, although not scoring much in these playoffs has been a key contributor for the Freezers. This night he over delivered. In the second period, he put the Freezers up when he took a puck that went off of defenseman Constantin Braun and onto his stick in the slot, which he was then able to sneak it into the net for his 2nd goal of the game.
The game was tighter defensively than previously expected. We knew that Berlin was excellent defensively, but Hamburg played excellent on the defensive end as well. Their only lapse was when Busch tied the game at 2 in the early 3rd period. Busch was able to beat defenseman Charlie Cook and became wide open. Curry did not have a chance as Busch pushed the puck past him stick side.
Less than a minute later however the Freezers struck back for the game winner. Forward Brett Engelhardt beat Zepp with a great slap shot from the high slot. Zepp got his glove up but it was not in time. The Hamburg fans expected at this point to continue into a wide open game, but Curry and the Hamburg defense shut the door the rest of the way. There would be no comeback on this night for Berlin.
As the Final Horn sounded the Freezer fans started going nuts. It was super important in their minds to get the 1st victory of the series.
Game 2 Hamburg Freezers 4-2 over Eisbaren Berlin
Mikhail Kupchik was the most important name in game 2. He simply dominated. He apparently decided to put the Hamburg team on his shoulders and delivered a hat trick in the victory. Berlin was never in this contest. Kupchik scored early in the 1st beating Zepp with a pretty wrist shot through the five hole. Hamburg would score 3 times in the 1st with goals by Kupchik, and a goal by Brendan Brooks. Serge Felski answered for Berlin, but it was after they already were down by 3. While the Freezers have blown leads all playoffs long, it did not look like they were in any trouble at any point in this game. In these last 2 games Hamburg has seemed to have their mind set on playing good d.
Another key to this series was who was going to control the face-off circle. Kupchik and Pederson are two of the best in the DEL, and while game 1 was even, game 2 was overwhelmingly tilted in the Freezers favor. The Freezers won face-offs at a rate of just under 3 to 1 in this game. This was key in time of possession and the Freezers were able to play the game they wanted to.
In addition to being the man on the face-off, Kupchik was dominant on special teams scoring a short handed goal in the 2nd period to complete the hat trick. The goal came with him against 2 defenders attacking the offensive zone. A beautiful spin move came, followed by a wrist shot that Zepp could not handle. While the Berlin fans did not throw hats they have developed a complete respect for this Ukrainian 19 year old and recognize that he may already be the best center in the DEL
Game 3 is now going to go back to Hamburg with the Freezers up 2 games to 0. Fans will be bonkers at the prospects of winning the DEL Cup, but they have to remember that Berlin can easily take the next 2 or even 3 games. Zepp will be ready to play, and Tallackson, Busch and Company will definitely come to do just that, play and play well. The key will be Rob Zepp. He has not played terrible, but he will have to play much better. After the game in the dressing room, the man known as “Led Zepp-elin” had this to say.
“We were dominated tonight. In the last 3 years and even more that hasn’t happened much and we shouldn’t make this a trend. Kupchik had a hat trick tonight and I tip my hat, er, mask to him. That being said Game 3 is the only one that matters at this point and it is anyone’s to win.”
Will Game 3 be another defensive battle? Will Curry continue to play well? If Hamburg gets a lead will they transition to a defensive mindset the way they have done the first 2 games? Game 3 will be played back in Hamburg and we will have a full report.