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Fighting spirit rewarded: HC Erlangen celebrates first away win of the season

Ludwigshafen , 09-21-2019

HC Erlangen reaped the rewards for a strong and fighting team performance by capturing its first win on the road in the still young season on Saturday evening. The club from Franconia defeated Ludwigshafen Owls after a strong first half in a highly intense encounter by the final margin of 19:23 (8:14). Keeper Carsten Lichtlein hit top form and drove the home side to despair with a string of 17 saves – 47 percent of all shots on his goal.

“We have to take up the fight right from the word go,” demanded the HC’s Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson before the game. And Erlangen did that magnificently: There were a total of 15 time penalties, four yellows cards and a red one in the encounter between Ludwigshafen Owls and HC Erlangen. In a game that could hardly be beaten for intensity, the HCE kept its cool and, to the joy of the more than 100 HC fans who had made the journey, did not let itself become disconcerted, despite a weak nine-minute spell in the second half. In addition to missing Martin Murawski and defensive organizer Petter Overby, Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson had to travel to the Palatinate without his captain Michael Haaß. The playmaker was forced to withdraw at short notice due to a flu-like infection and so was only able to support his team from in front of his TV at home. HC Erlangen conceded the first goal of the encounter, but then got off the mark through Johannes Sellin. The visiting fans saw an evenly poised game in the Friedrich Ebert Arena in the first ten minutes, with both goalkeepers in particular impressing in the opening spell. The home side defended with an offensive 5:1 system, but Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson had prepared his team well and so it was always able to come up with answers. As was the case in the 13th minute, when Büdel spotted that Ivic was free and the latter put his side 4:3 in front. HC Erlangen’s defense grew in stability as the game went on. The HC repeatedly captured possession and punished every mistake by the Owls mercilessly. Nikolai Link made it 9:7 on the second wave of an attack. Büdel, Bissel and Sellin likewise scored to make it 12:7 in the 22nd minute and by the time new signing Quentin Minel stretched the lead to seven goals (14:7 in the 29th minute) with a sizzling shot from the backcourt, the general thrust was clear. HC Erlangen went in at the break with a highly deserved 14:8 lead.

Erlangen was unable to continue its fine run from the first half at the beginning of the second. Although Büdel and Ivic won two-minute penalties, the HCE failed to score in the first ten minutes after the restart. That was attributable to the fact that it failed to take its chances and showed some slips in concentration in attack. The home aide, which had recently trounced its league rivals from Leipzig at home, produced a run of four goals without reply to close the gap to 12:14 in the 39th minute. Yet HC Erlangen did not become nervous, but instead kept its cool and, at the latest when Christopher Bissel made it 15:12 with the next goal, got back into the game. One player did a particularly good job in defense for the club from Franconia: Goalie Carsten Lichtlein moved into top form. The world champion saved a total of 17 shots and almost drove the Owls, who fought with all means at their disposal, to despair. HC Erlangen was also not thrown off its stride in offense. Despite the Owls’ rough play, the team continued to fight as one, repeatedly went where it hurt and rewarded that courageous performance with goals. The first-division club from Franconia pulled 12:15 ahead and then 13:18 in the 48th minute. The red card for Sebastian Firnhaber after his third two-minute penalty with a quarter of an hour left did not disconcert the HC. Nikolai Link and his teammates defended with combined forces and Antonio Metzner turned on the heat in offense after being brought on. Metzner, who hails from Ludwigshafen, put five between the home side’s posts, with the result that victory was no longer in danger. HC Erlangen finally ran out deserved winners by the margin of 23:19 to reward itself for the a strength-sapping fighting display with its first win on the road in the still young season.

“We turned in a great performance here today. The team fought selflessly and I contributed my bit to that. We really enjoyed the game, also thanks to our fans. We’re a team and the fans are just as vital a part of that.” said Carsten Lichtlein after the final buzzer.