The BHC’s aim was to summon up all its remaining energy in the encounter against HC Erlangen and if necessary go beyond the pain barrier – not only in order to capture important points against a direct rival in the battle to avoid relegation, but also to thank its fans before the winter break with a rousing home win. The BHC managed to do both and ran out completely deserved winners by 32:27 (13:13) against the other side from Franconia.
Missing Fabian Gutbrod and with a weakened Milos Dragas in their squad, the Bergische Lions operated with Alexander Oelze in the left backcourt and captain Viktor Szilagy as playmaker – in defense, the BHC’s Head Coach Hinze made two changes, bringing in Maximilian Hermann and Benjamin Meschke.
From the outset, Erlangen found it almost impossible to break through the home side’s solid inner block and it was not until more than four minutes were played that Moritz Weltgen managed to reduce the deficit to 2:1. The Lions played out their attacks patiently, whereas the visitors were often in danger of being penalized for passive play and needed to long time to find a gap in the BHC’s defense. Two further goals by Weltgen then tied the scores at 4:4 in the 10th minute. The team from Franconia was able to celebrate its first lead in a fiercely contested encounter after twelve minutes, when Sebastian Preiß scored on a fast break – Maximilian Weiß was not able to gather up the ball at the crease after it rebounded following a save by Katsigiannis. With his team one man up, however, left wing Christian Hoße again equalized (6:6 in the 13th minute), after which Maximilian Weiß and Hoße again stretched the lead to 8:6 in the 16th minute – prompting the HC’s Head Coach Frank Bergemann to call a timeout.
The visitors remained too passive in offense, did not find an effective means of successfully breaking open the BHC’s defense and so relied on fight and tenacity to get the better of the Lions. Yet the BHC also displayed virtues befitting a team that is hell-bent on avoiding relegation, with the result that there were a lot of interruptions in an encounter where flowing play was in short supply. With a few minutes left in the first half, the home side had built a lead (12:10 in the 28th minute), but then squandered a number of attacks, which Erlangen capitalized on to score three goals in a row and be on the verge of taking a narrowly lead in with it at the break. However, Arnor Gunnarsson plucked up courage to score a buzzer beater from just over fifteen meters out to tie the scores at 13:13 at half-time to the jubilation of the 3,026 crowd in the jam-packed University Hall.
The Lions were too docile after the restart and fell behind again right away after two goals by Martin Stranovsky (13:15 in the 32nd minute), but then picked up steam again – Kristian Nippes scored twice to tie the game and then Alexander Oelze put the BHC back in front (16:15 in the 35th minute). Erlangen snatched the lead back twice (16:17 in the 36th and 17:18 in the 37th minute), before the home side, led by captain Szilagyi, called on all its cleverness and experience against the newcomers to the DKB German Handball League and built a crucial lead. It was also once more goalkeeper Björgvin Pall Gustavsson who now produced his strongest spell in the game and matched the great covering of his teammates in front of him with several saves. When Oelze made it 21:18 in the 22nd minute and Erlangen subsequently called a timeout, the University Hall was again transformed into a madhouse – the fans’ mood was at fever pitch.
Toward the end, Nikolas Katsigiannis replaced Jan Stochl once more between the HC’s posts, but was not able to prevent Maximilian Hermann making it 22:18 in the 44th minute, whereas his opposite number had seemingly boarded up his goal again and Christian Hoße finished a fast break to extend the gap to 23:18. With just ten minutes to go to the final buzzer, Erlangen reduced the deficit to 25:22, but the “King of the Lions” struck back right away to make it 26:22 in the 52nd minute and then, with his inimitable ´”Szilagyi move”, broke any vestige of resistance the visitors’ had by making it 28:22. The Bergische Lions then methodically played out the remaining minutes to secure a totally deserved 32:27 home win and points 18 and 19 – and so can look back on a great points haul at the end of the year.