By Steve Meyer
The Wiesbaden Vikings White Team kicked off their 2019-2020 campaign on Monday night (21 October) down in Eppelheim against the newly formed Rhein Neckar Gladiators. From the start of the opening frame the Vikings were banging bodies, getting pucks deep, and applying steady pressure to the Gladiator defense. This offensive pressure, and a furious attack in front of the net, finally resulted in the Vikings first goal of the season at 11:57 by Captain Andre Beem “Beemer” (assists- Robert Wojcik and Tim Weinert). The lead wouldn’t last long though, as the Gladiators answered less than a minute later at 12:41 with the tie goal. The period would end with the score 1 to 1.
The second period started with a quick goal by the Gladiators at 0:38 after they took advantage of a momentary miscue by the Viking defense. The rest of the period saw a furious pace of play with multiple opportunities by both sides but no one being able to find the back of the net. Pawel Moll, pressed into action between the pipes for the Vikings, made save after great save to keep the game close, keeping the Vikings within a single score at the end of the second period.
The gridlock was ended when, after a questionable tripping call against the Vikings, the Gladiators would capitalize on the power play at 4:32 to take a 3 to 1 lead. Down by 2 goals the Vikings had to start pressing, leading to several great scoring opportunities, but with the offense attacking frantically the Gladiators were able to score a cheap goal at 6:07. The Vikings didn’t need long to respond, and after maintaining possession consistently in the Gladiator zone, Jannick Paluschtzik buried his first goal of the year at 7:36 (assists- Olli Fritz and Nick Haas) to bring the score within 1. Unfortunately it would not be enough. Despite some incredible saves by Moll (standing on his head at times), and although the Vikings never quit fighting, and in fact dominated most the third period, the final score after regulation would be the Rhein Neckar Gladiators 4 and the Wiesbaden Vikings White 2.
Although playing well and controlling the puck in their opponents zone most of the game the Vikings couldn’t get the breaks they needed to get pucks to the back of the net. But there was plenty to build on moving forward, and it can easily be said that this Vikings team is far ahead of where it was after its first game last season. Special thanks to Jason Malak for coaching, and Erich Muehleisen, Frank Moncada, Joshua Haas, and Dome Ziegler for making the long drive down to provide support. The Vikings White Team’s next opportunity for a victory comes on Wednesday, 6 November, at 2045 at our second home barn in Mainz against the Huskies of Waldbronn.