Cardiff comeback to beat Blaze in shoot-out
The Cardiff Devils came from behind twice to defeat the Coventry Blaze 5-4 on penalty-shots in the Challenge Cup at the Viola Arena.
The victory means Cardiff move on to the quarterfinals along with the Guildford Flames in group B whilst the Blaze will face a play-in game against the third placed team in group C for a place in the next round.
Coventry were boosted by the return of Captain Drew Schiestel but were without influential forward Janne Laakkonen and suffered further when Dillon Lawrence was forced to leave the game during the first period after falling awkwardly following a hit on the boards.
After killing numerous minor penalties, the Blaze took a lead on 14.35 through their top-scorer Evan Bloodoff and just 9 seconds later it was 0-2 when Andrew Johnston beat Ben Bowns in the Cardiff goal on a breakaway.
Coventry made it 0-3 at 24.49 when a Justin Hache slap-pass was re-directed into the net by man-of-the-the-match Matt Pohlkamp on the powerplay.
With Blaze forced to sit further minor penalties, the Devils were to fight back, and they got on the board at 27.33 through Joey Haddad whilst on the man-advantage.
It was 2-3 on 38.21 when Mike McNamee registered with defenceman Sean McMonagle, who was to be a big influence on the game later, getting a second assist of the night.
The game was tied at three at 48.15 when Bryce Reddick fired past Jamie Phillips only for Blaze to go and take another lead at 56.38 through in-form Luke Ferrara.
Devils were to come back again though and the levelled the game 4-4 through Stephen Dixon at 58.23 and that’s the way it stayed through 60 minutes meaning 3-on-3 overtime.
Despite both teams having chances, and Bloodoff clearing one from the line for Coventry, neither team were to find a winner in the extra period, so the game went to a dramatic shoot-out.
With McMonagle and Blair Riley scoring, the pressure was on for Coventry at 0-2 down in the best of 5 shots. With Bloodoff and Johnston both adding to their earlier goals and Phillips shutting the door at the other end, the shoot-out went into sudden death.
With each team able to choose whichever player they like, and as many times as they want, McMonagle was to step up three times in row for Cardiff. The Canadian scoring on the third attempt whilst Bloodoff, Ferrara and Charles Corcoran were all denied by Bowns to give Devils a 5-4 win and qualification for the quarterfinals.
Coventry on 6 points from 7 games will wrap up their group B fixtures with a game against Guildford on Saturday 9th November at the Skydome Arena (7pm).
In group C, the Manchester Storm and Nottingham Panthers (also both on 6 points) must face each other twice more on Saturday 2nd November in Nottingham and on Sunday 3rd November in Manchester. The team who finishes with more points from the two games will progress automatically whilst the other team will face Coventry for a place in the quarterfinals.
Whichever team finishes with the better record will have home advantage.