For the first time in 19 years, playoffs in the German Ice Hockey League will take place without the current champions. Despite their final spurt at the end of the main round on Sunday, the Eisbären Berlin did not make it into the pre-playoffs at the last minute.
After the 3:4 (0:0, 2:1, 1:2) after a penalty shoot-out against the Schwenninger Wild Wings, the season for coach Serge Aubin's team came to an early end. The last time this happened was in the 2003/2004 season. At that time, the Krefeld Penguins missed the playoffs as champions.
"We just weren't good enough. We should have performed better," said Eisbären defender Morgan Ellis at MagentaSport. "It's all our fault."
Instead of the polar bears, promoted Frankfurt will play at Düsseldorfer EG from Tuesday to get into the playoff quarterfinals. The Hessians secured tenth place with a 4:3 (1:1, 1:1, 1:1) after extra time against the Augsburg Panthers. DEG slipped out of the top six with a 0:4 (0:1, 0:2, 0:1) against Adler Mannheim and thus missed the direct entry into the playoff quarterfinals. "Of course it's bitter and disappointing. But the good thing about sport is that it continues on Tuesday," said captain Alexander Barta.
Ironically, arch-rivals Kölner Haie overtook the relegated Bietigheim Steelers 8-2 (2-1, 4-0, 2-1). Thus, the team of coach Uwe Krupp showed at the crucial moment much better form than the Düsseldorf team. Sunday's win was the third in a row for the Haie. The DEG, on the other hand, conceded the third defeat from the past four games.
The Eagles will play against the Haie in the quarter-finals, and Straubing against Wolfsburg has already been determined as a series. Main round winner EHC Red Bull Munich and the second ERC Ingolstadt, who are certainly qualified for the Champions League, have to wait for their opponents. These are determined in the pre-playoffs between Düsseldorf and Frankfurt as well as Bremerhaven and Nuremberg. Two wins from a maximum of three games are then necessary to advance. From the quarter-finals onwards, the best-of-seven mode applies again - you then need four wins to advance.
The DEL season is now over for Schwenningen, Iserlohn, Augsburg and Bietigheim, as it is for Berlin. While Bietigheim can plan to be relegated to the DEL2, Augsburg, as penultimate, has to tremble for a few more weeks. The Swabians are also relegated if Kassel, Krefeld or Dresden win the DEL2 playoffs. Only these three teams meet the economic requirements for promotion.