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HC Erlangen wins in Minden for the first time ever

Minden, 12-15-2019

HC Erlangen managed to take both points against GWD Minden in the 1st division for the first time in the club’s history on Sunday afternoon, thanks to uncompromising defense and an unbridled desire to win. The club from Franconia now goes into its encounter with third-placed Hanover on Thursday with two victories behind it, after which it does battle with the top team Berlin Foxes on Sunday at the legendary on “Black Night” in the ARENA NÜRNBERGER Versicherung.

Eight games against GWD Minden in the top flight and not a win to show for it – that was HC Erlangen’s sobering track record going into the game on the road. And that negative run has now been ended. Erlangen’s Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson called on his players to make their presence felt from the outset, throw down the gauntlet to Minden, and so go one better and follow up their victory against Leipzig. And his team lived up to that to begin with, as Sime Ivic, Michael Haaß and Nikolai Link scored to tie the encounter at 3:3. After a further brief spell in which both teams sized each other up, the HCE grew more stable in defense and was able to adapt to Minden’s fast counterattacks. The encounter remained evenly poised up to the 13th minute, among other things thanks to a seven-meter penalty by Johannes Sellin to make it 5:5. However, Minden then pulled two ahead, as Erlangen’s play lacked intensity in this spell – which did not prevent Ivic (who ended up with a haul of eight goals) from reducing the deficit to 6:7 after 17 minutes. Nikolas Katsigiannis was also able to pull off a fine save for the first time, and Johannes Sellin seized the opportunity to make it 7:8. In particular, Minden carved out opportunities from the wing and so Eyjólfsson urged his team in his timeout to play out and finish its attacks with greater tenacity and focus. However, the encounter was still evenly balanced all in all, even though the HC repeatedly had to cushion the effects of time penalties. Yet Minden was also short-handed for two minutes before the break, which Christopher Bissel capitalized on to score his first goal in the 28th minute. Sellin made it 12:13 shortly afterwards with another seven-meter penalty, then Nico Büdel added his first goal and the equalizer shortly before the buzzer.

It took a little time for the game to pick up pace after the break. The HC avoided slipping behind in this spell mainly thanks to four saves by Katsigiannis within a short space of time. That enabled Nico Büdel to make it 13:14 and give his side its first lead since the 4th minute – and one that a selflessly fighting HC Erlangen would no longer relinquish. From that point on, the visitors turned on a strong performance in the Kampa Arena. The desire to break the spell and capture two points against Minden for the first time could clearly be felt in all HC players. Bissel made it 17:19 in the 41st minute and since the HCE was solid in defense and aggressive in its tussles, it managed to carve out a four-goal advantage (17:21 in the 43rd minute). A historic victory, the first-ever against the club from Eastern Westphalia in the 1st division, was increasingly with its grasp in this spell – as reflected in Erlangen’s mature play. After the visitors called a further timeout, Ivic finally put his side on the road to victory with three goals in a row: 26:21 with seven minutes remaining – the encounter seemed to be decided. However, crunch time proved to be a hectic affair. HC Erlangen committed mistakes in building its moves, which the GWD punished to reduce the gap to two goals (26:28 in the 58th minute). Yet the team then showed again that it “keeps on gelling and doesn’t lose its head even in stress situations,” said Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson in his post-game analysis. Even when the home side tried to regain possession by adopting offensive man-to-man covering, the HCE did not give its opponents a look-in and eventually ran out deserved winners by 29:26.

“We wanted to write history today and definitely put on a better display than in our last two games here in the Kampa Arena. The team carried the passion it showed against Leipzig over to this encounter and wanted to achieve that milestone here right from the start. I’m very proud of my team, who refused to be ruffled here, even in the hectic final spell when the crowd became really vociferous again.”

HC Erlangen has another game on the road on Thursday, this time against third-in-the-table TSV Hannover-Burgdorf. Three days later, on Sunday, December 22, there is a real highlight of the season in the ARENA NÜRNBERGER Versicherung: The traditional “Black Night,” where the team and fans will dress in black to vie for the points against Berlin Foxes, in bound to conjure up a very special atmosphere on HC Erlangen’s home ground.