More cheering abroad

More cheering abroad

Dhe Cologne striker David McIntyre said a surprising sentence on Sunday: “Ice hockey is a fun sport,” said the Canadian on “Magentasport”. But that’s an open question, especially in the play-offs. Blocking pucks at speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour, rattling against shoulders and bands, banging on the ice, being hit with sticks and even fists – there are more pleasant things to do.

However, McIntyre did not speak generally about his job, but about a phenomenon that can be experienced in the quarterfinals of the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) – and in the series between the Adler Mannheim and Kölner Haien in particular: the teams win more away than at home. Six of the eight teams celebrated abroad on the first three matchdays, with Mannheim against Cologne there were even only away wins. McIntyre was asked after the Haie’s 3-2 lead on Sunday whether he could explain that. “Not at all,” he said, laughing, “that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Most of the time things are different. The home field advantage in team sports has been proven by studies all over the world. Although it has decreased over the years, there are still more home wins in the DEL. No travel stress, your own audience, the familiar environment. In the last main round, the home teams won 57 percent of the games. But now in the quarterfinals only 42 percent. Which is all the more remarkable because the top teams have played twice as often at home as those from the middle of the table. And because there is a real cult in ice hockey about home play in the playoffs – even though that only means having four of the possible seven games at home. But for many teams, starting the knockout stages at home is a legitimate goal of the season.

The “right of residence” is being stolen more and more often

That should carry even more weight this season because there are no more viewer restrictions. And the fans are coming in droves, there’s a lot going on in Germany’s ice rinks again. Nevertheless, the few hundred away fans usually cheer, in three of the four series the outsider leads. Does the lower pressure suit them? Is a more defensive style better suited to the playoffs? Or is it all just a snapshot?

Niki Mondt can explain it “zero point zero”: “Normally the fans push you and influence the referees,” says the manager of the Düsseldorfer EG, which has now experienced something extraordinary: away wins in games against ERC Ingolstadt. Before that, the Ingolstadt team had lost six times in a row in Düsseldorf, and the Düsseldorf team in Ingolstadt even lost eleven times. But both series ended at the weekend. Although Mondt doesn’t want to make too much of it: “Every game was on the cutting edge.”

It was the same about 120 kilometers to the east: The Straubing Tigers, the best home team in the league, play there. Nobody likes to play in their narrow, loud and, above all, cold hall. But on Sunday the Grizzlies Wolfsburg won there. And were happy to have “stolen the home right”, as it is called in ice hockey: “We knew that we had to win here one day, and we’ve done that with this,” said grizzly professional Laurin Braun. Knowing full well that that might mean nothing at all, the Straubingers could win again in Wolfsburg on Tuesday. Everything is currently possible.

Even the bottom of the table from Bremerhaven wins at EHC Red Bull Munich, the sovereign table leader of the main round. After that, the Fischtown Pinguins even won at home, which is why Munich were under pressure on Sunday. But they mastered the task confidently, won 7:1. “Today’s game was simply world class from us,” said double goal scorer Filip Varejcka. Which was a bit much. But there is no question that it takes exceptional performance in the DEL to win home games.

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