Dhe Löwen Frankfurt impressed with their playing quality in the second German ice hockey league (DEL2) last season, but the unity of the team was also remarkable. The end result was the championship title.
But a functioning collective on and off the ice does not form by itself. The people in charge of the lions around sports director Franz-David Fritzmeier came up with something for the upcoming season in the DEL.
Happy with the performance
Fritzmeier says: “We ate together, the players went golfing. We also offer the players breakfast and regularly have lunch together.” The trip to the tournament in Dresden last weekend should also help the team in many ways. On the one hand, the tournament served as a sporting preparation. But it was also an opportunity for the players to continue growing together as a team.
Despite the defeats against Iserlohn (1:2) and Düsseldorf (2:5), coach Gerry Fleming was satisfied with how his team presented itself. “I think we’re moving in the right direction. At the beginning we made a few mistakes that Düsseldorf were able to exploit. After that, however, we behaved well and closed the spaces.”
Efficiency is still missing
One thing is clear: as important as team unity is, it will only be one of the basic requirements for the DEL season. Playback mistakes or less consistent clarification actions must be avoided in the first division, because they immediately lead to goals being conceded.
In front of the opposing goal, the lion strikers have to be more effective. Points still being worked on. Until the start of the season, the lions will play four test games in league rhythm on Fridays and Sundays. Next weekend in Bietigheim and Schwenningen, then in Cologne and against Dresden.
Captain at the tournament in Dresden was 30-year-old defender Reid McNeill. He has never performed this role in his career, he says in an interview with the FAZ. If he continues his excellent performances from last season, he will not only support the team mentally from the defense, but also sportively.
He already sees a positive atmosphere in the team: “We have an interesting mix because many players know each other from last season.” There are 16 players. On the other hand, there are nine newcomers; a central striker is still wanted.
Far into the discovery phase
“To be a successful team, we need to get to know each other better, on and off the ice,” says McNeill. Fritzmeier would also like to see a successful team. “I think we have to define success differently than last season. For that we need a team that can handle three defeats in a row.”
The lions have come a long way in their joint discovery phase because there are only a few newcomers in Frankfurt in a completely new environment. Fritzmeier has long been in contact with the talented striker Dominik Bokk, who has now been loaned out by the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The franchise has the theoretical possibility of bringing Bokk to America at any time, but he has not yet played a game in the NHL. The ever-physical forward Ryan Olsen, who plays in a forward line with Nathan Burns and Ryon Moser, also knows his peers. The three played together in Kassel in the 2020/21 season. You can see the good interaction on the ice.
Another example: The newcomers Magnus Eisenmenger and Maximilian Gläßl also played for the lions in the DEL2 and know the club and the city. You might not discover much that is new when the team goes on a city tour shortly before the start of the season, which also includes a stop at the Römerberg.
The balcony may only be visited in the event of the championship, but in Frankfurt this season the table is less than satisfactory. The lions just don’t want to go back to league two.