Olympic Ice Stadium, Munich - Eric Schneider scored two goals and Brandon Dietrich scored the only goal during the penalty shootout as EHC Munich defeated ERC Ingolstadt in a Bavarian Derby match.
The two points earned by Munich after winning in penalties keeps them in the thick of the playoff race and extends their win streak to four games.
Ingolstadt saved a point and remain second in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga standings three points behind the Berlin Eagles.
From the outset, EHC were playing in front of the visitors goal. And it paid off when Schneider skated in and scored the first goal past Ian Gordon after only 2:54 into the game.
"We knew they were missing guys at the back wanted to play at a high pace," said Munich head coach Pat Cortina. "We wanted to put some pressure on them and we did a pretty good job and generated some offense."
Munich didn't let up and continued to attack to add to the score sheet. But passes were a bit too short, or too long and chances could not be converted.
ERC drew even with 3:29 left in the opening period, winger Luciano Aquino scored only his seventh goal of the season.
The second period started the same way the first - EHC on the attack. And it became even more frustrating for Munich and they still could not finish off any of their attacks.
Midway through the second period, Dietrich found Schneider unmarked behind the defense for an easy shot on goal. His initial attempt hit the near post, but a lucky bounce brought the puck back to the his stick and his rebound this time found net. 2-1 Munich with 8:37 to go.
However, German international goalkeeper Jochen Reimer was not able to keep the lead when Thomas Greilinger's shot trickled through Reimer's pads for the equalizer.
"Munich battled real hard and patient, they were the better team the first 30 mins," admitted ERC head coach Rick Nasheim. "We only dressed 16 players and had three of our defenders missing, but in the last 30 mins we played some hockey."
The final period was even, both teams with minimal chances. In overtime, ERC had the first real chance to steal a victory when Dave Reid was called for boarding and was sent to the box. With the 4-on-3 power play, Ingolstadt controlled the action in front. But Munich's defense and Reimer stood firm. They even had a break away attempt.
The teams were even when Ingolstadt's leading scorer Derek Hahn joined Reid in the penalty box for hooking. Seconds later, Reid returned and Munich had the advantage. This set up a frantic final minute, but no one could score.
Finally, Dietrich made a nice move, beat Gordon and Munich took home the win.
"Important for us is that we played with tempo and we skated well," added Cortina. "If we keep working and play disciplined style of hockey, we'll get to the pre-playoffs."
Earning the two points were crucial for EHC to keep pace in the playoff race, as both teams behind them won. Iserlohn, Dusseldorf and Munich are all tied at 58 points.
Goal-scorer Schneider was not satisfied with only two points and felt they left points on the ice the last two shootout victories.
"We have to win games like tonight and that hurts our chances by not getting three points, otherwise we are going to finish 7th every year," said the team's leading scorer. "In the end there, in the shootout, and we were lucky with the two points. We need to learn to score those important goals and win games."
Captain Stéphane Julien could not agree more. "This year we have had too many up and downs. We lost 4 in a row after Christmas, now we've won four. In the DEL, if we want to be in the top six, we have to be stable all year. Our biggest problem is not scoring goals, we are the worst in the league."
Ingolstadt's point helps them hold on to second place in the DEL until Sunday when they host Hamburg.
"To earn one point at this time is really important for us," remarked Nasheim. "Teams at the top of the table like us are losing to clubs like Munich because points are meaningful for the middle of the pack teams that are fighting for the playoffs. With our situation, could have been easy to play a passive game. But we battled back."
EHC travel to Wolfsburg for a date with the Grizzly Adams on Sunday and return home for another Bavarian Derby, this time against the Augsburg Panthers. Face off at 19:30 CET.
Milestones: Julien played in his 500th game in the DEL. He started his German professional career with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers in 2003 and has scored 117 goals and amassed 272 assists.
"In Germany, not many foreigners play 500 games and for me it's an honor," said the 37-year-old Canadian. I think I play hard every game and pretty proud of it."
Julien is currently negotiating with the club to extend his contract but is looking to return to his homeland to allow his kids to finish school.
"If I leave Munich, I won't continue my playing career. I will coach and develop the kids on a junior team, it's in my blood so hockey will be a part of my life."
Teammate Christian Wichert played in his 150th DEL game Friday night... Felix Petermann and Martin Buchwieser were called up by the German National team to play in the BelSwiss Cup February 10-11.
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