HC Erlangen lost to THW Kiel, the club that holds a record number of German championship titles, by 29:15 (12:8) on Sunday afternoon. The club from Franconia proved a match for the league leaders for 20 minutes, before the home side changed its tactics in defense and surged ahead.
Both defensive ranks dominated the first half, as both the home side from Kiel and HC Erlangen presented a solid display at the back in the Sparkassen-Arena. HC Erlangen got off to a good start against its top-of-the-table opponents. Although the HCE conceded a goal by Miha Zarabec after 40 seconds, its first attack also saw it score. It pluckily played with an attacking mindset and kept the encounter evenly poised up to the 14th minute. With the score standing at 5:4, the THW’s Head Coach Filip Jicha was forced to call a timeout. Kiel now switched from a 6:0 defense to an offensive 3-2-1 formation. That did not bear fruit to begin with, as Nikolas Katsigiannis prevented the home side from taking a two-goal advantage after the restart. At the other end, Büdel passed to Ivic as the latter ran into the crease and he tied the scores at 5:5 with his fourth goal of the encounter. After trailing 6:5, Erlangen was again able to equalize through a seven-meter penalty by Florian von Gruchalla, but then the team of Head Coach Rolf Brack fell two goals behind for the first time (9:7 in the 22nd minute). On Erlangen’s subsequent attack, Patrick Wiencek collided with Nico Büdel and was forced to retire with suspected concussion. Kiel’s pivot was taken to hospital during the game to be kept under observation. Up to the break, errors increasingly crept into Erlangen’s game as it built its moves, with the result that the HCE went in at half-time trailing by 12:8.
Erlangen began the second half with a seventh field player. Yet this tactic did not yield any success for the HCE. Instead, the ball ended up in its empty net and so Kiel went 13:9 in front. Just two minutes after the restart, HC Erlangen lost Sebastian Firnhaber, a key pillar in its defense, after the former Kiel player was given his third time penalty and so was ejected with a red card. HC Erlangen was also unable to unlock the home side’s strong defense on the next attacks and so Kiel was able to produce a bitter run of six goals without reply: With the score standing at 14:10, the home side surged into a decisive 20:10 lead in the space of six minutes. It was the 19-year-old Daniel Mosindi, a member of the under-23 feeder squad who was called up for the league team in place of the injured Antonio Metzner, who put his teammates out of their misery with a plucky one-one-one action to make it 20:11 in the 42nd minute. The HC’s Head Coach Rolf Brack brought on all the players available to him on his debut and tried to turn the game around by deploying various formations. However, there was no way through against the individual class of Kiel’s players on Sunday afternoon. Kiel repeatedly stole possession and mercilessly punished every mistake as Erlangen built its attacks with goals on the counter. Leading 22:12 and 25:13, the THW pulled 26:14 ahead. Jan Schäffer made it 26:15 in the 56th minute, but defeat could no longer be averted and Erlangen ended up losing by the clear margin of 29:15.
HC Erlangen will need to step up a gear this Thursday in its first home game of the new year. The throw-off against HBW Balingen-Weilstetten is at 7 p.m.