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Stanley Cup winner Bernier joins German second tier team

BERLIN (Reuters) - Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings has joined German second division team Heilbronn Falken in order to stay in shape during the National Hockey League's lockout, the club said on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Canadian goalie, who won the top American trophy with his team in the previous season, is expected to play his first game on Friday, Heilbronn said on its website (www.heilbronner-falken.de)

The first two weeks of the 2012-13 regular NHL season were canceled this month due to a labour dispute, with owners and players at odds over how to divide a $3.3 billion revenue pot after a prior collective bargaining agreement expired.

The decision affects 82 games scheduled from October 11-24 and marks the first time regular season action has been canceled since a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.

"We had to act quickly after the injuries to (goalies) Kevin Nastiuk and Domenic Bartels," said coach Rico Rossi. "So the NHL lockout came at just the right time because it is not every day that you can attract such a star to Heilbronn."

Several NHL players have emigrated to Russia, Germany or other countries with a competitive ice hockey leagues and even to Alaska's minor leagues to remain fit.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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