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Sports

Captain Schubert fights to save Freezers ice hockey team

Hamburg Freezers captain Christoph Schubert is spearheading efforts to save the professional ice hockey team after American investors pulled the plug. The campaign has received support from athletes in other sports.

Former NHL player Christoph Schubert, who has been the Freezers' captain for the past few seasons, spent the weekend appealing for donations from hockey fans and investors in an effort to raise two million euros ($2.24 million) by Tuesday's deadline.

Schubert and his supporters hope this will convince the American corporation Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to operate the Freezers for one more season, to give them time to find someone to purchase the club, which plays in Germany's top professional hockey league, the DEL.

Midnight German time on Tuesday night is the deadline for the club to apply for a license to compete in the league next season, something that alone costs 800,000 euros. With a few hours to go, Schubert and his supporters had raised more than 375,000 euros and the figure was steadily on the rise. Schubert also said on Facebook that he had secured a separate set of funds "in the six-figure region," meaning that the combined fundraising was "scraping towards a million euros."

Deutschland Hamburg Eishockeyspieler Christoph Schubert

Christoph Schubert

AEG, which also owns the DEL team Eisbären Berlin, had announced last week that it would not apply for a license for next season, as it had lost around 2.5 million euros operating the Freezers, despite the fact they attracted an average attendance of more than 9,000 this past season.

However, Schubert, who is also a former member of the German national team, refused to take the decision lying down.

A rally outside Hamburg's hockey rink drew around 1,500 fans on Sunday, and was attended by Schubert as well as head coach Serge Aubin and sporting director Stephane Richer.

The effort has also received support from beyond the German ice hockey community, with national field hockey player Moritz Fürste, Hamburg SV football club striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga and players from Hamburg's second division side St.Pauli also joining the campaign.

On Monday, even Bayern Munich and Germany player Thomas Müller expressed his support via twitter.

But Schubert , who has been appearing in person to any business leader who will listen to him, knows that reaching their goal remains a tall order.

"We have a one-percent chance, and hope is the last thing to die," Schubert said.

pfd/mm (SID, dpa)