Eventually that damn puck had to go in.

The Munich team fired shot after shot at the Berlin case.

And then finally in the second period: cheering in the stands, beams of light from the roof of the hall on the goal, the goal music boomed from the speakers.

But all for just a few seconds, until the fans and hall directors noticed that the game was going on.

The puck wasn't even in it, and that shouldn't change on this Wednesday evening in Munich's Olympic ice rink.

Niederberger holds everything

The reason was Mathias Niederberger, who according to coach Serge Aubin probably showed the best game of his career.

The Berlin national goalkeeper fended off 32 shots, sometimes four in one scene.

And because the people in front on the other side took almost every chance, it was 0:5 in the end.

The decisive third win in the fourth final game of the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) for Eisbären Berlin against EHC Red Bull Munich.

It was done just before 10 p.m. when almost 20 players in white jerseys ran towards their goalkeeper, throwing helmets, gloves and bats in the air.

How you do it when you win a championship in ice hockey.

For the Berliners it was the ninth overall and the second in a row that they celebrated even more exuberantly than last year.

After the 2020/21 ghost season, fans were in the hall again.

And the fact that those from Berlin were now celebrating a deserved champion was also recognized by the people of Munich.

"They played outstandingly all year," said EHC captain Patrick Hager on "MagentaSport".

"Gave All I Had"

The Eisbären had already finished first in the main round, and things went on like this in the play-offs: 3-0 wins in the quarter-finals against Cologne, 3-2 in the semi-finals against Mannheim, and now in the final 3-1 against Munich.

And every time they won the last game to zero.

When it came down to it, Niederberger was insurmountable.

Overall, he fended off more than 93.5 percent of shots in the playoffs and conceded significantly fewer than two goals per game.

"I gave everything I had," he said after the last game.

However, someone else was named the most valuable man in the play-offs: Frank Hördler, 37 years old, captain, the face of the polar bears.

“Legend,” coaches and teammates kept saying on Wednesday.

Because it was also the ninth championship for Hördler, a DEL record.

Now he stood there on the ice, the confetti stuck to his cheek, a mixture of sweat and beer running down his face.

Then he thought again of all the hardships of the past few months.

The tackles and body checks and blocked shots.

Of the Corona cases, the game transfers, the tight schedule with the last five games in seven days.

"When you get to the playoffs, you know what sacrifice you need to see through to the end.

And that memory you have afterwards with the boys is worth so much.”

Hördler has been defending in Berlin since 2003, at that time it was a much smaller club, played in the old corrugated iron palace, was considered the East or even Stasi club because of its past as East German champion EHC Dynamo.

It's different today.

The polar bears have long been playing in a chic arena at Ostbahnhof, and are a team for all of Berlin.

And thanks to their owners - the Anschutz Entertainment Group from Los Angeles - they have the necessary money.

Even at the start of the season, they were considered to be extremely deep, with German internationals like Marcel Noebels, Leo Pföderl and Mathias Niederberger, and top foreigners like Matt White, Blaine Byron and Zach Boychuck.

And although things were going brilliantly, they followed up, brought in the talented German striker Dominik Bokk and the Dane Frans Nielsen from North America.

That paid off, not only for the depth.

Nielsen, who previously played more than 1,000 times in the elite NHL league, scored three goals in the finals series, also the most important in overtime in the second game.

The additional commitments were "the key", said manager Stéphane Richer now.

Because coach Aubin managed to integrate the new players into an already functioning team.

They were all "like brothers," said Aubin.

Next season, real family members could even meet in the dressing room.

Frank Hördler's son Eric switches to the professional field.

This season, the 17-year-old stormed for the Berlin youth team and recently at the U-18 World Cup.

Whether it's enough for the DEL, Father Frank doesn't want to get involved, he said.

But it remains his goal to play with his son one day.

And if everything works out, they'll celebrate his tenth championship together.