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HC Erlangen loses to league leaders

Flensburg, 02-17-2019

HC Erlangen suffered a defeat on the 22nd matchday of the season on the road at the reigning German champions, top-of-the-table SG Flensburg-Handewitt, who have yet to drop a point. After a strong opening spell by the visitors, the home side opened up a four-goal gap toward the end of the first half and stretched its lead to 28:18 by the final buzzer.

HC Erlangen traveled to the far north of Germany with a decimated squad. Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson was missing not only Nikolai Link and Nicolai Theilinger, but also Dominik Mappes, who had calf problems. Nevertheless, the club from Franconia went 1:0 in front through Büdel and got into the game well. HC Erlangen launched its attacks at great pace and Bissel made it 2:3 on the second wave in the 4th minute. The home side then took the lead with a seven-meter penalty (5:4) while the visitors were short-handed. Both sides produced a neck-and-neck race before Erlangen suffered a bitter setback in the 15th minute. With the scores tied at 6:6, playmaker Nico Büdel was shown the red card after a foul on world champion Rasmus Lauge and so had to watch the rest of the encounter from the stands. The home side extended its lead to 9:7 and the referees also awarded time penalties against Sellin and Overby. With their opponents two players short, the league leaders went 11:7 ahead. Yet Nikolas Katsigiannis kept his side in the game, saving one free shot after the other; however, HC Erlangen did not manage to reduce the deficit by the break, since it was thwarted too often by the opposing goalkeeper Bergerud. As a result, the HC went in at half-time trailing by 13:9.

After the restart, Steinert pulled a goal back from the seven-meter line (13:10). Yet top-of-the-table Flensburg, which has not dropped a point all season and 11 of whose players participated in the World Championships, unfurled all its class and pulled 19:11 ahead by the 41st minute. Lacking Büdel, the HC operated from the backcourt with Schröder, Haaß and Steinert and kept on carving out good changes, although it was too rarely able to convert them into goals. The reigning German champions were thus able to open up a 10-goal gap by the 51st minute. Nor did the goals by Steinert, Schröder and Kellner avert the impending defeat. The club from Franconia lost its grip in defense and seldom found ways to unlock Flensburg’s compact defense. The 6,177 crowd in the Flens-Arena saw the home side run out winners by the final score of 28:18.

“Unfortunately, the time penalties threw us completely off our stride. We didn’t exploit our chances clinically in the second half and so were always playing catch-up,” was how Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson analyzed the encounter afterwards.