Jim Lynch's side suffered an agonising 6-5 defeat having led three times in a pulsating game in which there was never more than one goal between the teams. David St Pierre gave the reigning grand slam champions the lead in the first period, by the end of which the scores were tied as Christian Lukes levelled.
John Parco restored Ayr's advantage early in the second, but Mannheim were ahead going into the final period with goals from Paul Stanton and Jason Young on the powerplay.
The last 20 minutes proved a rollercoaster for Ayr as they pulled level through Matt Hoffmann at 43.28, only to go behind again just over two minutes later when Pavel Gross found the net.
But Eagles turned the tie around when Mark Montanari and St Pierre netted within the space of 47 seconds, before foul trouble led to Dave Tomlinson capitalising on the powerplay to make the score 5-5 with seven minutes remaining. Just when it looked as if the Eagles would hold out as they defended desperately in the dying stages, Young sent Mannheim through to join the Russian champions, Kazan, who had earlier beaten Czech side Litvinov 3-2.
In the Sekonda Superleague, Cardiff Devils closed the gap on leaders Manchester Storm to four points - and with two games in hand - producing a 3-2 win at London Knights.
A Doug McEwen strike sandwiched a brace from Mario Simeone as Cardiff came from behind to set up a vital clash against Storm at the MEN Arena tonight.Reuse content