HC Erlangen suffered a defeat on the road in Leipzig on Sunday afternoon. After an evenly balanced first half, the club from Franconia lost its grip on the game in the first ten minutes after the break, with the result that the home side was able to pull further and further ahead. Even though the HCE was able to fight its way back and cut the deficit to three goals, the team of Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson finally went down to a 26:21 (13:11) defeat.
The many HC fans who had made the journey saw an evenly poised first half in which neither Leipzig nor HC Erlangen was able to carve out a decisive advantage. The home side opened the scoring, but Sebastian Firnhaber equalized right away (1:1). After seven minutes of play, in four of which the HCE was short-handed, the SC DHfK went two goals in front for the first time (4:2). Nico Büdel tied the scores in the 15th minute (6:6), but HC Erlangen kept on making mistakes while building its attacks and so the home side quickly snatched the lead back and went three ahead for the first time thanks to the goal by Luca Witzke (10:7). Michael Haaß and his teammates refused to be shaken off and again tied the encounter (10:10 in the 22nd minute) thanks to two goals by Overby and one by Nikolai Link. Erlangen impressed with attentive defending, but displayed weaknesses in switching from defense to offense and was repeatedly forced by Leipzig to stage slow approach attacks. Captain Michael Haaß made it 11:11 shortly before half-time, forcing Andre Haber to call a timeout. Just under two minutes were left to play when Leipzig went 12:11 in front and Sime Ivic committed a mistake in attack, which the home side exploited clinically to make the score 13:11 virtually on the buzzer.
HC Erlangen conceded a goal directly after the break (14:11), but Michael Haaß was able to successfully finish his side’s first attack of the second half (14:12 in the 32nd minute). However, nothing went right for Erlangen in the next seven minutes. The team of Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson committed a string of technical errors, enabling the SC DHfK to produce a 4:0 run and surge 18:12 ahead. Nico Büdel put the vociferous HC fans out of their misery in the 38th minute (18:14), but Leipzig did not let the HCE get any closer than three goals (21:18 in the 50th minute). Even though the visitors kept on carving out good chances to score, they were all too often thwarted by the opposing keeper Jens Vortmann, who stopped 40% of all shots on his goal and at times seemed insuperable. The deficit was ultimately too high for Erlangen to take any points back with it to Franconia on the 21st game day. Leipzig stretched its advantage from 23:18 and 25:19 to 25:20 and even the HCE’s decision to bring on a seventh field player could not avert the impending defeat. Sebastian Firnhaber saw the red card after a foul on Hönicke with 15 seconds remaining. Lucas Krzikalla converted the penalty, after which Nico Büdel made the final score 26:21.
Erlangen now faces its next tough game on the road, when it travels to the far north of Germany on February 9. Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson’s team will need to improve, especially in attack, if it wants to be a match for the star ensemble of THW Kiel, the club that holds a record number of German championship titles. The throw-off is at 4 p.m.