By Steve Meyer
Photo courtesy of Daniel Muller
Momentum has been building all season for the Vikings White Team and nowhere was it more on display then during Game 2 of their opening playoff series verses the undefeated and top ranked Ice Rabbits of Lorsch. A bitter 15 to 4 loss during the regular season back in November and a tough loss 5 to 1 in Game 1 of the series was still fresh on the Vikings minds, and the boys (and girl) in white took to the ice with something to prove. But it was a steep hill to climb against the Ice Rabbits, a team averaging 10 goals a game during the regular season while giving up less than 2 goals, and early on it looked like it would be more of the same. Following a furious first period the horn would sound with the Ice Rabbits in the lead by a score of 2 to 0.
Following a rousing speech from Captain Andre Beem (aka Beemer), and a few heated discussions between players on the bench, the thought on players’ minds was “finish strong”. From the moment the puck dropped to start the second period the Vikings were firing on all cylinders. Just 57 seconds in Jannik Paluschtzik would open the scoring for the Vikings (assist Steve Meyer) with a beauty. The Ice Rabbits would retaliate just 36 seconds later but you could feel that the energy in the rink had changed. Bodies were banging, passing was crisp, and the Vikings were getting pucks deep and pucks on net. The pressure led to a Rabbit penalty at 2:07 and another goal by Paluschtzik on the power play at 3:45 (assists Josh Braman and Olli Fritz). At this point you could tell that the Rabbits were rattled and pressing. Continued attacks by the Vikings paid off at 8:11 when Olli Fritz beat the Rabbit netminder (assists Robert Wojcik and Josh Braman), and just like that the score was tied against the top team in the DPL 5. A late goal in the final 2 minutes of the period by the Rabbits would mean that the Vikings would be down just 4 to 3 going into the final period of play.
As play resumed in the third period you could feel the frustration continuing to build for the Rabbits, earning them 3 penalties in the first 9 minutes. This led to the tying goal at 6:06 by Robert Wojcik (assist Morgan Evans) after a gritty battle in front of the Rabbits’ net. The home crowd that made the short trip to Mainz could be heard loud and clear as high hopes filled the arena. Alas, less than 2 minutes later the Ice Rabbits would score to take the lead 5 to 4 with just over 7 minutes remaining. Bodies would be flying all over the ice for the remainder of the game placing increasing pressure on the Rabbit defense. This pressure coupled with the increasing frustration finally resulted in a game misconduct and ejection of a Rabbit player with just over a minute left to play in the period. But despite this pressure and a valiant effort the final horn sounded with the Vikings coming up just short.
Although the Vikings had lost they had nothing to hang their heads about. They had gone toe to toe against the best team in DPL 5 and nearly pulled off the upset. This was clearly not the team that played the Rabbits back in November. This game was more than just a confidence booster for the Vikings, it is a foundation that can be built upon moving forward to next season in the DPL. Thanks to all of the Vikings faithful who came out to support the team. You were heard and your dedication will soon be rewarded with victories! GVG!