This time Bremerhaven would get it, on Tuesday evening they seemed ripe.

Fifth matchday of the German Ice Hockey League (DEL), the Fischtown Pinguins – as they are officially called – were 1:3 behind shortly before the end of the second period.

That's no world in ice hockey, but the opponent from Iserlohn looked stable.

And it can't always go on like this with the success story of the penguins.

But a good hour later the usual picture: final siren, cheering Bremerhaven on ice, bench and grandstands.

A 5:3 shone on the video cube.

And that was somehow representative of the club's recent history.

There, too, it is said year after year: This time it will catch them.

But then that never happens.

In the six years since their promotion to the DEL, the Penguins have reached the play-offs every year and even made it into the Champions League once.

And now they're setting out to do it all again.

Five games, five wins, not the big clubs from Bavaria, the Rhineland, Baden-Württemberg or Berlin lead the DEL table, it's the team from the North Sea coast.

"Don't make it too big"

Anyone who calls Alfred Prey and asks what's going on will hear reassurances at first.

"Just don't make it too big," says the 68-year-old, who officially works as "team manager".

Some say he is the club.

Since 1992, Prey has held various positions with the Penguins.

He has lived in the region for a total of 40 years, calls himself an "assimilated North German", but he still has his Upper Palatinate accent.

Prey is not the usual development worker from Bavaria, which is available all over ice hockey Germany.

He was never a professional, but stationed as a naval officer in Nordholz when he joined the roller and ice sports club in Bremerhaven in the early 1990s, the parent club of the professional department that was spun off in 2001.

For years they played in the second division, and briefly even in the third division.

Until the Hamburg Freezers ceased operations in 2016 and the Penguins took over the DEL license.

First it was supposed to be an adventure, the Gallic village from the ice hockey province.

But it quickly became more.

Now Bremerhaven is even right at the top.

"But we were also a bit lucky," says Prey.

All in all, it's all just too much for him: "Because we've reached the play-offs every year, there's an atmosphere that that would be commonplace.

But it can't be normal that Bremerhaven is ahead of Cologne or Düsseldorf."

At the moment it is. Because the team of coach Thomas Popiesch, which is rarely elegant, but always plays hard and committed, has grown over the years and now works in all areas: Goalkeeper Brandon Maxwell is the best in the league with an average of 1.65 goals conceded.

The defense has improved enormously with the transfers of Philip Samuelsson and Nicholas Jensen.

And the so-called "Karawanken-Express" is back on the offensive - the three experienced Slovenians Jan Urbas, Miha Verlic and Ziga Jeglic, who together have collected more than 500 points for the penguins in recent years.

Which entails a certain dependency, but this year they get support: There have already been ten different goalscorers, internally Christian Wejse (4) and Alex Friesen (3) are currently on top.

"It's a super good feeling when you know that the whole load isn't on the three Slovenians," says Prey, who nevertheless remains skeptical: The competition have invested so much that the goal for the season is before the sixth game of the season this Friday at home against Schwenningen (7.30 p.m. live on Magenta Sport) only tenth place and thus the first play-off round.

"That would be good, then you don't have to worry." But at the moment it's only the competition.