Another week, another key win for reigning champion THW Kiel. Seven days after winning a very important game in Wetzlar, the North Germans defeated second-placed MT Melsungen in a hard fought battle by a score of 32:27 (17:15). It was a very entertaining and intense match, although full of mistakes by both sides.
Melsungen, the only team to win a league game in Kiel since 2011, started strong and looked very determined. But the MT made too many mistakes, especially playmaker Timm Schneider, who shined during Saturday’s win against the previously undefeated Rhein-Neckar Löwen, struggled throughout the whole 60 minutes.
While Schneider often forced plays, Kiel took profit of the turnovers and used the speed and anticipation of wingers Rune Dahmke and Niklas Ekberg to widen the gap a little bit. Melsungen’s coach Michael Roth called a timeout with his side being down by three (5:8) after 13 minutes. But his guys didn’t seem to listen and he stopped the game again just five minutes later, when Kiel led 12:7.
From then on it seemed like Roth’s players finally understood what he said. A more defensive formation, the MT switched from a 3:2:1-system to a 6:0-scheme, caused more trouble for Kiel to create scoring chances, despite the shooting power of Christian Dissinger, Domagoj Duvnjak and Marko Vujin. Nonetheless the THW was able to hold a 17:15 lead at the break.
In the second half Kiel pulled away again, just to see Melsungen come close once more. MT’s German international right-wing Johannes Sellin had the golden opportunity to tie the game at 20 on a free fast-break, but his shot was saved by Niklas Landin. Still, the guests never stopped fighting and Kiel couldn’t just cruise to an easy win, even if the final result might suggest otherwise.
It was a natural fit that a turnover cost Melsungen its final chance to steal a point as a pass by Michael Müller, who had a subpar performance just like Schneider, was intercepted and Kiel scored on the ensuing possession. Overall, the MT backcourt, which had been the decisive factor along goalkeeper Johan Sjöstrand on the weekend, lacked firepower throughout the game.
Sjöstrand himself, in his return to Kiel, made some outstanding saves in the second half, but looked totally lost in the first. Marino Maric, the Croation pivot, was Melsungen’s only player in top form. He scored five goals on five shots and was his team’s leading scorer. Duvnjak led Kiel with nine goals, but Dahmke’s box score stat of scoring eight out of nine times was even more impressive.