What a surprise – the last match happened to be the crucial game in the season 2012/2013; that time the opponent turned out to be the champion of last season, the Eisbären Berlin. This was a tough team to beat for the Tigers, since only a victory could have resulted in obtaining rank ten, which was the prerequisite for the pre playoff games. Once more, my older son, Tobias was part of this historic triumph, similar to the year before, when we were testimonies of the unbelievable victory versus Adler Mannheim resulting in the direct participation of the playoffs.
This thrilling game against the official champion of 2012 was extremely exciting, but the Tigers performed sensationally well, keeping the top players away from their goalie and even scoring six times whereas the defense only allowed two goals which was pretty awesome in this situation. If the Tigers had scored one more goal, the Eisbären Berlin would not have even obtained the right to play their first game at home; anyway they were lucky that way.
Late afternoon, the crowd in the stadium was astounded again having achieved the pre playoffs this season. Who should have been the team to be beaten that time? Soon it became clear, that the Augsburg Panthers were the opponent.
Eventually, I was right to forget about all those other games before and start off at zero – anyway, it was clear that the Tigers had to play their best hockey.
First of all, the Tigers had to head to Augsburg; Almost 6,500 crazy spectators followed this game, a huge fan community of Straubing was in midst this crowd of passionate people. In the long run, after the second overtime which basically lasted about 20 minutes, the Tigers set the lucky punch and lead 1: 0 in the series.
Then, I tried to grasp a valuable ticket for the next home game taking place two days later at the Pulverturm, when I was accompanied by a close friend who had already experienced a lot of fairly emotional games.
In fact, we were part of a great game of my beloved Tigers: they were intensively cheered by nearly 6,000 fans. Finally, we won 4: 1 and reached the quarter finals versus the sharks of Cologne, whose head coach Uwe Krupp was not too glad about this constellation.
It goes without saying that I attempted to get both tickets for the home games which was not easy anyhow. Since Cologne won the first match pretty easy with a 6: 1 victory the Tigers had to bite back soon. Their first home game was a real highlight again, because our players managed to beat the sharks 5: 2. At that moment, everything was possible again and you always firmly believe in your team anyway.
Next match in the huge Lanxess arena was shown on TV and I watched it, there was no doubt.
The first 10 minutes turned out to be rather even with both teams working on several good chances to score but then the fiasco happened: the sharks scored 3 goals within almost one minute which was simply too much for the Tigers' soul. It was unbelievable how something like that could have occurred after those first positive impressions. Anyway, the Tigers did not yet recover from this shock and eventually lost 0: 5.
The third game had to be won, this was pretty much clear for the fans. I was still confident referring back to our first home match. Positively speaking, the Tigers got ahead with an excellent blue liner after the first period. The crowd did its very best this evening cheering on during the entire game, which was amazing to observe.
Unfortunately, the Tigers did not quite pay attention for a few minutes which resulted in two quick goals for Cologne. This was in fact very frustrating since we could not harvest our efforts before. After the sharks scored for their third time, it seemed to be a long way to come back. This was true, which was a real pity because the Tigers fought extremely well and did an excellent job despite the backlog.
In the end the Tigers lost 3: 6 although they put so much emotion into the game in the last period coming back from 1: 5 to 3: 5. You never know what could have happened with a quick 4th goal.
Anyway, the sharks from Cologne lead 3.1 in the series and the final countdown should take place within 48 hours. This very last game was quite tied up until the end of 3 periods; it ended 1: 1 and the overtime had to decide for the first time in the series. The Tigers surely had all opportunities to remain in the series and cling to their chances. Could they still believe in this dream?
However, one bad and lousy change of the defense enabled Cologne to hit the decisive goal and win 2: 1 climbing up to the half finals.
Nevertheless, the Tigers did a great job taking into account that they had to cope with a few major injuries of very important players during this series. There was no way to compensate versus such a top team like Cologne, which lastly achieved the DEL final against Berlin.
I guess you already know who won the final? Like in the prior years the Ice Bears of Berlin turned out to be the best team of the league again. But you shouldn't forget that Berlin was pretty lucky to reach the 4th position of the table when they lost their last game against the Tigers.
Anyway, I will always cross the fingers for any season to come but I won't hold up the expectations too highly, because the Tigers are still an underdog but have already achieved so much before.
One should never forget those wonderful miracles on ice! There are definitely no strings attached for the future.
Outlook – Still dreaming?
How will the story of my beloved Straubing Tigers continue in the future?
Of course, you always look back to their previous success story. However, you cannot expect such a highlight every other year, there is no guarantee.
Basically, you cannot predict a similar performance on ice which the Tigers had experienced the year before.
However, you shouldn't neglect that this team of lower Bavaria has definitely achieved quite a bit during the last 6 years of being a solid member of this prestigious league in Germany.
They have well deserved respect and recognition of the remaining teams. On the other hand, the crowd and the critics always try to demand an even better performance year by year.
That way, the coaches and the managers obviously suffer from a higher pressure which needs to be minimized in terms of long term success and a stable environment.
Again, it's time for searching and picking the right players for the next season still to be planned and organized even if the last game is not yet finished.
The head coach basically takes care of reasonably delegating all required tasks to the assistant coach regarding the goalsies; Besides, the sports manager has to focus upon scouting interesting players overseas earning their money in the AHL (American Hockey League); above all, the European market will be critically observed, too.
One of the favorite countries has always been the Swiss League, in particular Bern or Zurich. This is due to the predilection of our former coach Daniel Ratushny, who preferred two excellent players during the last two years. Those two elegant skaters have already paid off, since they happened to become the most valid players for the team of the Straubing Tigers.
Anyway, let's see what happens after the sixth season for Straubing. I firmly believe that you still need to be patient whilst waiting for the success which will come true sooner or later.
I shall always cross my fingers for the Straubing Tigers and hope for numerous thrilling and exciting matches taking place at the traditional stadium close to the historic site of the Pulverturm; This is a famous tower of ancient times where ammunition once was stored to be alert if the enemy was close to the city.
Let's count on the well known 'Pulverturm Roar' coming back soon.
Last but not least, I would like to draw your attention to another hockey highlight still to come sometime in the future.
Since the icons and heroes of the championship 2005, namely Billy Trew, Trevor Gallant and Calvin Elfring don't play any more for the Tigers but will surely finish their career sometime, there will definitely be a special farewell game in Straubing sooner or later.
It's definitely going to be a very personal event with lots of emotions and memories. I firmly believe the organization of the Straubing Tigers will try to figure out an interesting opponent worthwhile to go there.
I am fairly curious, when this match is going to take place and I will surely acquire a ticket for this historical game; this will be a must in the eyes of the passionate Tigers fans.