Manchester Storm 2-4 Cardiff Devils
This past weekend saw the Cardiff Devils taking a step closer to their first League title in 20 years with a 4-2 victory over the Manchester Storm at the Altrincham Ice Arena. Storm came into the game on the back of five straight defeats and was hoping to rekindle their playoffs which of late have been diminishing by week since the turn of the year.
Manchester got off to a flyer though in the opening minutes of the contest, with the hosts exerting early pressure on the Devils and led to Canadian forward Darian Dziurzynski making a nice move to put the Storm one up after 2.54 gone in the game. The title-chasing Devils side looked to be rattled early on and saw the hosts on the front foot and if not for Ben Bowns in the Cardiff goals then the home side could have been out if sight.
Manchester were on top for the majority of the first period and saw them taking a deserved lead into the first intermission. Second period saw the Welsh side getting more than a foot in the door as play went on, with the Devils being the better of the sides as the period went on. Mike Clemente needed to make a string of brilliant saves and having his side on defensive duties to stop the onslaught that the Devils were posing on their hosts.
With the home side coming under the cosh by the away side, it saw the visitors finally getting on the scoreboard through player-coach Andrew Lord, as he made it 1-1 at 33.57. Manchester nearly scored a well worked goal when they caught out the away side, but an unbelievable save by Bowns kept the home side out and brought a standing ovation from the visiting fans in the rink. In the last minute of play it saw Patrick Asselin putting Cardiff in front at 39.24 and saw the home side once again conceding a late goal in the period.
With the second period drawing to a close, it saw Storm’s Eric Neilson earning himself an extended stay in the penalty box with a 10 minute Misconduct call against him after the forward tried to draw Andrew Lord into dropping his gloves and his over exuberance saw the referee penalising Neilson.
Play in the third saw the Devils upping their game a lot more and moving up the gears too, as they caused the home side problems and showed on the stats with the visitors out-shooting their opponents 12-4 in the period. Cardiff then moved 3-1 ahead at 52.46 thanks to a break up ice with Denny Kearney and Sean Bentivoglio, with Bentivoglio turning the puck home for a two goal game.
Minutes later Mark Heatley replied on the powerplay for the Storm to make it 3-2 and get the hosts back in the game at 55.48, that was till Joey Haddad made sure of the points with an empty net goal after a communication failure between the Manchester bench and netminder saw Haddad firing home for a 4-2 score and condemn the home side to their sixth loss in a row.
Manchester: Darian Dziurzynski 1+0, Mark Heatley 1+0, Mario Trubucco 0+1, Cody Cartier 0+1, Paul Phillips 0+1
Cardiff: Patrick Asselin 1+0, Joey Haddad 1+0, Andrew Lord 1+0, Sean Bentivoglio 1+0, Layne Ulmer 0+2, Andrew Hotham 0+2, Gleason Fournier 0+1, Mark Richardson 0+1, Matty Myers 0+1
Manchester : 18 PIMS – PP 1-3
Cardiff: 8 PIMS – PP 0-3
Manchester: Mike Clemente 35 shots 32 saves (91.4%)
Cardiff: Ben Bowns 23 shots 21 saves (91.3%)