Devils Claim Conference With Opening Night Win Over Giants
The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to a 5-2 defeat against the Cardiff Devils on opening night at Ice Arena Wales. The win for Cardiff leaves them two points behind the first placed Sheffield Steelers and the Giants in fourth place, two points behind the Braehead Clan. The result also confirmed the Welsh side as Erhardt Conference champions.
The Giants, cheered on by a large travelling contingent of fans, were missing Matt Nickerson, Brandon Benedict and Johan Ejdepalm in Saturday’s Elite League match-up.
After a cagey opening period finished scoreless and it was the Devils who opened the scoring in the second period. Joey Martin scored the first goal in his side’s new rink at 31:34, assisted by Andrew Lord and Carl Hudson. However Giants players on the ice disagreed with Referee Hogarth’s decision to award the goal, claiming the puck did not cross the line. Indeed, Hogarth proceeded to throw Craig Peacock out of the game for ‘Abuse of Official’.
Little over two minutes later, the Devils lead was doubled as Martin scored his second of the game at 33:37. The Giants showed fight and near the end of the second period, at 37:39, James Desmarais pulled one back for the visitors – finishing off a nice move at the back post, assisted by Derrick Walser and Mike Radja.
Guillaume Doucet restored the Devils two goal advantage at 46:44 with a powerplay goal, assisted by Tomas Kurka and Gleason Fournier before Michael Forney’s fine finish at 50:43 when one-on-one with Ben Bowns in the Cardiff net made it 3-2.
However Referee Hogarth called Kris Beech for ‘Slashing’ and the Devils took full advantage as Andrew Hotham scored on the resulting powerplay, assisted by Jake Morissette and Ryan Russell at 56:03.
Tomas Kurka made sure of the 5-2 opening night win with an empty net finish at 58:44 with the Giants going in search of an elusive third goal. Both sides meet again on Sunday, face-off 6pm at Ice Arena Wales.
Cardiff Devils 5-2 Stena Line Belfast Giants
Giants Man of the Match:
#14 Michael Forney
Photos:Â Helen Brabon – www.helenbrabonphotography.co.uk