Hamburg 2013-14 Season in Review – Hamburg Freezers have a great season but fall just short in the finals.
It was a tough season with many ups and downs for the Hamburg Freezers. The Mikhail Kupchik led Freezers played uninspired down the stretch but kind of coasted through to the finals where they were beaten for the DEL Championship. Hamburg was swept against the team they beat in the finals last year; arch rival Berlin.
Kupchik was the leading scorer of the DEL and was also named MVP of the DEL. A great accomplishment for the 19 year old. Scott Gomez of Berlin was named MVP for the DEL Playoffs.
Lets go ahead and look at the Good, Bad and the Ugly.
Hamburg had a banner year. They just didn’t win the banner. They did a whole lot right, and just enough wrong not to win the DEL. Mikhail Kupchik led the league in scoring and at age 19 you know he has a huge future. He almost doubled the scoring output of his nearest competitor and could have taken the last 6 weeks off and still won the league’s scoring title. His goals and assists easily outpaced anyone else. Mikhail has a future in the KHL or even better the NHL. It remains to be seen where he goes and if he has played his last game with Hamburg.
Too many bad fighting penalties. Kupchik, Westcott, Pettinger, (before he got traded) Paris, (after he got traded) Murphy, and the rest of the lot seemed to forget that you get thrown out of games if you fight in the DEL. These guys got tossed a bunch. They wanted to increase toughness from last year as the thought was it would lead to better defense but it did not. Too many soft goals. Replacing the goalie and going with Kotschnew instead of last years Championship winning goalie John Curry did not stop the soft goals. Yes, there were more hits but the GPG went up. No bueno.
Champs Berlin Bears used a bunch of ringers in their quest to win back the title. Scott Gomez, Adrian Aucoin, Simon Gagne, and Jordan Leopold. These were all names brought in just to overpower Hamburg. It worked. Aucoin not only had the winning OT goal in Game 1 of the finals, but he had a fight with Mikhail Kupchik in the beginning of game 2 that took Kupchik out of the game. Gomez had a 5 point night in the final game to win the DEL Title. These were all short term DEL signings and while it is legal, we are not sure here at Totallyserioussports.com if New York Yankees style bringing in star players on a whim has a place in German League Hockey.
The Regular Season:
RECORD- 52 G 35 Wins (5 in OT) 17 Losses (2 in OT) 102 Points Total
That was good for 3rd best in the DEL behind the top team Berlin and finishing second was Koln.
Hamburg was #1 on the Power Play scoring at a 39% clip but was dead last on the Penalty Kill finishing at a 71% clip. At times it just seemed like the power play was unstoppable and the Penalty Kill could not get out of its own way.
Mikhail Kupchik was the team leading scorer and the DEL leading scorer with 49 Goals and 43 Assists for 92 Points. He also led the league in plus/minus with a +51. That was great. Unfortunately he also picked up a need for instigation and fighting and led the DEL with 245 penalty minutes. He was thrown out of 8 games for fighting. He did lead the league with 5 shorthanded goals and was tied for overall league lead with 9 Game Winning Goals with Chris Minard of Koln. Kupchik only had 2 Power Play Goals which was super disappointing for the young star. The team thrived on the Power Play but goal scoring wise Kupchik did not.
Colin Murphy was second on the team with 25 goals. He was also second in the DEL with 169 penalty minutes. He was third overall in the DEL with 50 points.
Midseason LW Matt Pettinger was traded to the Augsburg Panthers for TJ Trevelyan. The idea being that Colin Murphy could move to the second line and Trevelyan would keep the offense rolling along feeding Kupchik for scoring opportunities. The idea was not a bad one, but Pettinger ended up at a +45 for the year and TJ ended with 43 points. Defensively this may have been a bit of a mistake as Pettinger was definitely a bit grittier. In round 1 of the playoffs against Manheim, Trevelyan had his leg broken and was out for the playoffs. Bad loss for Hamburg and it showed by the time they reached Berlin.
Another trade that was thought to help the offense was the trading of Kevin Schmidt to Dusseldorf for D-Man Drew Paris. After the loss of Paul Stacy from last year Hamburg thought Paris would help as a puck carrying offensive-minded defenseman. Paris only tallied 7 goals and 15 points and finished at a -20. He was not able to save Hamburg and this trade overall was a dud.
As far as the D Men go Christoph Schubert had 39 points with 32 assists. He also finished at a +28. He was very good as his offense made up for the drop off from Duvie Westcott who only had 17 points. What Duvie lost on offense he did make up on defense finishing also with a +28.
Goaltending was solid but not excellent. 1st year Hamburg Netminder Dimitri Kotschnew had a record of 31 and 12 with a 2.36 GAA. The stats on paper were great but he did allow many a soft goal and benefited by the high potency of the offense.
In the first round Hamburg took out Manheim in 5 games. They then rolled over Inglostadt for a second year in a row finishing them in 4 games. The finals this year were a best of 5 for some reason and this is where Hamburg stumbled. They ran into a bunch of ringers from Berlin and lost in 3 straight games.
Not only did the loss of Trevelyan hurt bad they also lost defenseman Patrick Koppchen and 2nd line Center Brendan Reid. With these holes it was just too much to overcome. Berlin is taking home the DEL Trophy this year.
Mikhail Kupchik led the playoff scorers with 15 goals and 25 points. He was much better on the Power Play come playoff time scoring 4 in 12 GP. He also had 2 Game Winners. While his intensity may have ramped up a bit, he was also baited into a fight with Adrian Aucoin from Berlin in Game 2 of the finals. Getting thrown out was very costly as the Freezers were trampled in that game 4-1.
In the final game, Scott Gomez had 5 points including a hat trick as Berlin clinched it. The Freezers fought back as Colin Murphy had 2 goals and Kupchik had 1 goal and 3 assists, but in the end Hamburg could not match the outside power brought in for Berlin. Berlin won the game 6-5 and took home the gold.
What Does 2015 Have in Store for Hamburg?
Obviously this answer lies with what Mikhail Kupchik will do. Will he go to play with his cousin in the NHL? I would assume the young Ukrainian is definitely ready to be a star on Hockey’s biggest stage. He also has 2 younger brothers that are making their way though the ranks, (Petr and Henshel) and there is also talk that he would love to play on the same line as those two. That talk may be a bit premature as they are very young, but in today’s hockey things move fast. One would imagine a call or two will be coming in from the KHL. (Too bad they can’t creat a video game!)
For the rest of the team it has been a great run winning the DEL in 2013 and coming close again this year. If the team stays intact and they keep Kupchik one would think they will only get better. But if not you should expect to see a huge drop as they will not sustain with the loss of the 2 biggest stars in 2 consecutive years that the team has ever had.