Hockey World, Hockey Girl - Week 12
Four points… against Belfast… the defending Elite League champions… enough said, right?
Only kidding! Nine goals, 4000 spectators and no Mike Hicks! Can things get any better for us Devils’ fans right now?!
I was definitely one happy member of the Red Army as I watched our guys claim four precious league points from the defending League Champions, the Belfast Giants. Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous before Saturday’s game but the Devils certainly pulled out all the stops to demonstrate just how serious they are about their Elite League campaign this year!
Saturday night saw a complete Cardiff Devils’ roster face off in front of a crowd of more than two thousand fans, as the Red Army came out in force – probably because they heard about the clappers being given out on entry!! (Yes, I’m secretly jealous I didn’t get one! The downside to watching the webcast instead of making the two-hour journey to the Bay!)
Surprisingly, we had no fighting majors recorded this weekend – unfortunate I know! Last time we engaged in a double header against the reigning champions, over in the Land of Guinness, we saw Josh Batch giving Giants’ captain Adam Keefe a taste of his own medicine, drawing blood from the pain we all hate to love. While both sides seemed just as physical this time round, tempers were mostly in control.
Despite that, we did see a bout of handbags in the opening period, after a hit from Trevor Hendrikx (who else, eh?). We had some hugs and a little of dancing side to side between Hendrikx and Kompon, before ex-NHLer Kevin Westgarth got himelf involved.
Now I was sure Westgarth was going to get third man in; considering I’m usually rubbish at spotting third man in, I thought it was completely obvious! But, alas, our refs apparently did not think so… In fact, Westgarth was treated to a four minute roughing penalty, while Josh Batch, who jumped in to defend his defensive partner, sat for two.
Shortly after, alternate captain Jake Morrisette officially opened the scoring at 18:48, with his twelfth goal of the season. I say officially, because the Giants were unfortunate to have a very early goal disallowed.
After a hard fought first period, the Devils’ carried their one goal lead into the second, where they managed to double their lead just over half way through – coming from Joey Martin, who also scored his twelfth goal of the season!
Colin Shields managed to pull one back for the visiting side, assisted by Robby Sandrock and Craig Peacock, at 31:44. This seemed to revive the Irish side slightly, finishing the period strongly.
Going into the third, tensions were high. With the BBT rocking, both sides were definitely putting on a show, especially between the pipes. While the two teams battled in the neutral zone, Ben Bowns and Carsen Chubak stood on their heads in a competition to see who would be the first to fall. As seems to be the way when these two teams come together, it was the visiting fans that were to be disappointed.
His offense struggling to come up with the goods, it was up to Carsen Chubak to keep his team in the game and for the most part, he did extremely well. But as the game wore on and legs began to fail, Chubak slipped and Matty Myers was there to take advantage, not once but twice!
With Sawada and Hendrikx in the box after another round of handbags, things were heating up. But Myers was unfazed as he shot the puck past the Giants’ goaltender, first on 4-on-4 play and again ninety seconds later whilst on the man advantage after Robby Sandrock was sent to the box for high stick.
After such an explosive ending, is it any wonder that the BBT was mayhem on Sunday, with even more of the Red Army piling in to see all of the action?!
Like Saturday, it was unclear before faceoff, which way the game was going to go. Many expected the Giants to come fighting, desperate for revenge after falling 4-1 the previous night. However, it was the Devils that came out raring.
And raring they were! With just four and a half minutes played, Joey Haddad added his thirteenth goal of the season to give his team the early lead. While the game had been end to end for the opening minutes, the Devils had been pressurising Chubak and it was only a matter of time before he let one slip.
Not even a minute later, Jesse Mychan, with his family watching all the way over in Canada, had a brilliant breakaway opportunity to double the lead, but was interfered with, earning himself a penalty shot! Unfortunately Chubak read him like a book and was able to get down before Jesse could shoot the puck through his legs.
But never mind – Brent Walton, who was one of four players sitting on twelve goals for the season so far, could not be out done by Haddad and also added his thirteenth goal to give the Devils’ a two-nothing lead with only five minutes played!
With things looking bad for the visiting side already, Coach Thornton used up his time out early, giving his players a quick break to evaluate their position. But it must have been hard to make himself heard as the volume continued to increase as the Red Army got into full swing!
Frustrated as they were, the Giants were struggling to find the offensive strategy to decrease the deficit. Most of their shots were coming from outside of the zone and even Adam Keefe could not goad Jesse Mychan into a bit of rough and tumble – Jesse just laughed!
Normally both extremely physical teams anyway, it seemed impossible for the hits to get bigger, harder or even more bruising! Belfast were definitely taking out their frustration on any in black that moved, but the home side was not going to take it lying down – big checks were coming from every line on both sides and it was extremely surprising that we did not see any gloves flying from either side.
But the Giants’ desperate efforts were rewarded with just over seven minutes left in the opening period when, with Andrew Hotham in the box for slashing, Ray Sawada managed to push the puck under Bowns to make it a one-goal game. There was some controversy over the goal, with the assisting player, Kompon, playing the puck with a broken stick, but Matt Thompson gave a good goal.
It seems all the Devils’ wanted in the scoring action tonight, as Joey Martin added a third Devils’ goal, at 16:37 (with Darryl Lloyd in the box – surprise, surprise), giving him thirteen goals for the season so far! When they say hockey teams are close, it seems they do actually do everything together!
To round off an extremely eventful period, Adam Keefe managed to grab another goal for his team, giving them a slight confidence boost going into the second period of what has become an extremely close game.
It was this confidence that saw them camped out in the Devils’ zone at the beginning of the second period, forcing long shifts for both Hendrikx and Batch and Bowns to put on the show of his life! We definitely saw some highlight-reel material from both goaltenders this weekend.
With the pushing and shoving at an all-time high, it was only a matter of time before someone was sent to the box. And there were several penalties that went by without any definite chances for either side. It wasn’t until Brockwell was sent to the box for delay of game with just over ten minutes left to play that things got interesting.
With only one goal in it and both sides playing a tight game, it was definitely the case that the next goal was crucial in turning the tides. And unfortunately for the ruckus that was the Red Army, Jeff Mason managed to slot on in shorted handed to give the Giants the boost they needed, tying the game for the first time.
Tensions continued to build as the second ticked away but the score remained the same going into the final period.
But despite a show of tired legs at the end of the second period, the Devils were certainly not down and out! With just a minute and sixteen played, Andrew Hotham added his eighth goal of the season to give the Welsh side the lead once more.
And to finally round off the scoring for the evening, with a beautiful sniper shot from the wing, player-coach Andrew Lord showed us all how it is done, celebrating the win by pulling on the emblem on the front of his jersey! Team pride is definitely what we like to see!!
With the fifth Devils’ goal coming with over ten minutes still to play, the Giants were desperate to get themselves back in the game. Tempers were running high as Giants swiped at Devils and at themselves! Things only got worse as they had their second goal of the weekend disallowed for offside.
After using his timeout so early in the game, all Steven Thornton could do was stand behind the bench and watch as his player desperately tried to decrease the deficit. He pulled Chubak with less than two minutes to go, giving his side the extra man but the Devils had the crowd on the ice with them and nothing was going to get through.
Unfortunately for Darryl Lloyd, our boys in black were certainly feeling the energy in the BBT, as Tyson Marsh ploughed the Belfast no. 72 into the boards. Lloyd was slow to get up and had to be helped from the ice, although he did leave on his feet – So did Tyson, for that matter, when he was given a 5+Game for boarding. Hopefully we won’t see too many repercussions from that, and we hope that Darryl Lloyd is okay.
Despite the Giants’ six on four advantage for the final thirty five seconds, the game was finished and the Red Army cheered for a fantastic four point weekend!!
So after an amazing weekend against the defending Elite League Champions, the Devils now look ahead to next weekend, as they face off against two of the top teams in the league this year. Friday night sees a 7:30pm game against the Sheffield Steelers in Tin Town, before they return home to rest up on Saturday to face off against the league-leading Braehead Clan on Sunday!
Make sure you don’t miss a minute of the action this weekend!
Unfortunately for me, this is my last post until after Christmas now, so I certainly wish you all a Happy Hockey Christmas!!!
Let’s Go Devils!!
Devils - 1 Giants (Saturday)
Devils 5 - 3 Giants (Sunday)
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