It is only logical that the polar bears have secured the services of Frank Mauer. The 34-year-old winger shares the record of having won the title in the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) four times in a row with Alexander Serikow, who has long since retired – in 2015 with Adler Mannheim, then three times with EHC Munich. He brings exactly the winning mentality to Berlin that is needed for the polar bears to be able to win three titles in a row, as they did between 2010 and 2012.
After the past two years, the Berliners are of course also starting the Champions Hockey League (CHL) with the aim of beating the European competition. At the start of this Thursday, the polar bears will compete with the French champions Brûleurs de Loups de Grenoble (8:15 p.m. / Sport1). The “underdog in this group, as Mauer feels, has numerous professionals in its ranks who used to be active in the DEL.
Damien Fleury, for example, who has a past with the Schwenninger Wild Wings. Or Chad Nehring, who played for Fischtown Pinguins from Bremerhaven and the Düsseldorfer EG.
Nevertheless, it would probably be an exaggeration to clearly attribute the role of favorites to the polar bears. Out of habit, the Berliners have a hard time on the European stage. In this early phase of the season, they have revealed some considerable problems with fine-tuning in recent years.
In addition, the previous season preparation was very bumpy. Coach Serge Aubin’s team only won against EHC Biel-Bienne in the Dolomites Cup, otherwise they always left the ice as losers – most recently on Saturday at HC Ambri-Piotta (1:6). “We have to step up our game,” Mauer says, taking responsibility for himself and his colleagues. “We had time to test and find each other. Of course, the only thing that counts now is winning the games.”
Mauer in particular knows how to win games not only in the DEL, but also in the CHL. With the team from Munich, for which he had played for seven years until spring, the man from Heidelberg reached the final in 2019, and this year the trip to Europe ended in the semi-finals with severely weakened corona. “It was more and more implemented that the club said we wanted to win the Champions League,” says Mauer, adding: “Then came the year when we realized that it was really doable. And so we went with the mindset that we really want to win these games.”
Accordingly, Frank Mauer seems more euphoric than some Berlin colleagues when he talks about the upcoming tasks. “It’s a high-level competition, which is nice for every player,” he says. In addition, there are very different styles of play. “The DEL often plays very passively when the top teams come. In Europe it is different. Everyone wants to be better than their opponent. It’s played openly, very fast, it’s great fun if you get into it.”
For Mauer personally, who won the silver medal with the national team at the 2018 Olympic Games, it became apparent over the past season that he would have to get involved in a new sporting home again. In Munich he no longer played the role of earlier years. At first glance, a lot of things fit together in Berlin. “It’s nice to meet people who have been very successful in recent years and that you can soak up that championship spirit that was a bit lost in Munich.” As far as anticipation for Europe is concerned, many colleagues can probably still learn from him.