After the next thriller victory in the final series of the German Ice Hockey League at ERC Ingolstadt, EHC Red Bull Munich is on the verge of their fourth championship.
On Friday, the top favorite fought his way 3-0 (0-0, 0-0, 3-0) in a tactically high-class, high-speed duel and is now leading 3-1 in the best-of-seven series after victories. Already on Sunday (2 p.m. / MagentaSport) the team of coach Don Jackson can now make the first title since 2018 perfect. For the most successful coach in DEL history, it would be the ninth championship title in Germany.
In front of 4815 spectators in the sold-out arena in Ingolstadt, Ben Smith (48th minute) was the only one who overcame the inexperienced Ingolstadt goalie Jonas Stettmer in his second game from the start in an intense game that went almost without mistakes. At the end, Ryan McKiernan and Maximilian Kastner only raised into the empty ERC net when Stettmer had already left the ice in favor of another player.
Statistics speak for Munich
The first in the main round now has three chances to win the title. The statistics also speak clearly for Munich: In all previous best-of-seven final series, the team that won the fourth game also won the championship.
But that required a hell of a lot of work on Friday. Both teams acted in a disciplined manner at the highest level and had strong goalkeepers. This was astonishing, especially from the point of view of the Ingolstadt residents, who were suffering in this respect. The regular keeper Michael Garteig, who was injured in the quarter-finals against Düsseldorf after a bump at the end of the game, was still absent from the ERC. The substitute keeper Kevin Reich, who was recently ill, returned to the squad, but not to the goal. There, Ingolstadt’s trainer Mark French relied again on the 21-year-old Stettmer, who on Tuesday was the ERC match winner in the first – also hard-fought – final victory in Munich (4:3).
Ingolstadt’s defenders threw themselves into every shot at goal to help the inexperienced goalie. Stettmer survived his team’s first game with a man down in the middle of the second period without conceding a goal. On the other hand, because national keeper Mathias Niederberger also shone for Munich when Ingolstadt had few chances, it remained goalless until the final third.
There Ingolstadt then made the decisive of very few mistakes in the game. US veteran Smith used it for his fifth playoff goal. As a result, the EHC brought the narrow lead with all its class and routine over time. Shortly before the end, goals from McKiernan and Kastner into the empty goal finally made the decision.
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