Four of the five the home teams won Saturday night to keep the points in their own rink, as four Elite Ice Hockey League games and one Challenge Cup match took place.
Cardiff Devils 5-2 Dundee Stars
Reigning Champions Cardiff Devils had a real battle on their hands as they overcame a battling Dundee Stars team at Ice Arena Wales. Joey Martin gave the hosts the perfect start with a go-ahead goal after just 53 seconds, but the Stars fought back and led going into the first break thanks to goals from Connor Cox on a rebound and Lukas Lundvald going top shelf at 14:34 and 18:01 respectively.
Again the Devils got off to a quick start to begin the period, Ben Blood this time netting five-hole on Pontus Sjorgren on 4:15 to level things up. It took however until the final period for the home side to finally take the lead, Mike Hedden on 43:42 with the go-ahead goal, while Mark Louis added number four with 10:33 remaining. Haddad’s second of the game 3:25 from the end secured the points as the Devils keep the chase on Nottingham at the top.
Manchester Storm 5-2 Coventry Blaze
The Manchester Storm leapfrogged the Coventry Blaze as the host side completed a three-goal win over their visitors at the Storm Shelter. Rob Linsmayer gave the Storm the lead with just over five minutes played, and by the time Evan Richardson struck and Linsmayeradded his second the home side had raced into a 3-0 lead with only 17:26 played.
The Blaze however fought back in the second period – first through Tim Crowder with only 1:49 gone, and just under seven minutes later thanks to Alex Nikiforuk’s goal to suddenly bring the visitors back to within one. However just 1:31 into the final period Riley Stadel had the Storm back two goals ahead, and an empty netter finished by Luke Moffatt with 1:07 left made the points safe for the storm in a game that saw all seven goals scored at the same end!
Nottingham Panthers 5-2 Sheffield Steelers
Tom Barrasso’s reign as Sheffield Steelers’ Head Coach got off to a losing start as his new side went down in Nottingham.
Despite good early pressure from the visitors, the Panthers took the lead just shy of the 14 minute mark when Jackson Whistle lost the puck and Kevin Henderson was on hand to finish from close range. 3:19 into the middle session the Panthers doubled that lead through Tommy Hughes to lead by two through 40 minutes.
The Steelers got themselves back in the game through mark Matheson just 1:53 into the third period, but hopes of a comeback were all-but removed 16 seconds later as Alex Guptill re-established the home side’s two-goal advantage. Tyler Biggs make it four with just over 11 minutes remaining, and while Stefan Della Rovere pulled it back to 4-2, a late Powerplay goal for the Panthers sealed the points to keep them clear at the top of the table.
Fife Flyers 6-3 Guildford Flames
Two goals each from Carlo Finucci and Evan Stoflet secured a good home win for Fife Flyers as they began their double weekend with Guildford Flames with victory.
It was a nightmare start for the home side as Flames took advantage of a sleepy defensive line, allowing Kruise Reddick to punish after only 23 seconds. Flyers recovered well as the opening period went on and equalised a few minutes later as Carlo Finucci sent Chase Schaber’s chipped pass into the roof of the net. Finucci picked up his second with a blast from the blue line that left Guildford goalie Travis Fullerton well beaten and Todd Dutiaume’s side were 2-1 to the good. The second period got even better for the home side when they added two more goals in the opening exchanges to really turn things their way. Paul Crowder struck before Evan Bloodoff got in on the action to open up a three-goal gulf for the Flyers.
Flames got another through Ben Davies late on the period, but knew they had work to do in the third if they were to get something from the game. Crowder was on target again early in the third to more or less secure the points, with Evan Stoflet adding number six to make doubly sure. Flames hit back through Joshua Waller, but the night belonged to Fife as they head to Surrey for tomorrow’s rematch.
Challenge Cup: Glasgow Clan 3-4 Belfast Giants
Glasgow Clan have one more chance to stay in the Challenge Cup after Blair Riley’s goal with two seconds remaining made sure of a Belfast Giants win. With Giants already in the last eight, Clan need to win their final group game against Dundee Stars on Tuesday in regulation time to achieve qualification.
Belfast were in no mood to make it easy as they started with the sort of urgency Clan struggled with initially. It did lead to the opening goal for the visitors as Lewis Hook teed up Guillame Gélinas, who rifled his shot into the home net. Glasgow got themselves level in the second period when Craig Peacock, from just behind the goal, found Rasmus Bjerrum and the Dane finished from just in front of the crease.
However the Giants were back in front as Francis Beauvillier finished low to Joel Rumpel’s right and Adam Keefe’s men were 2-1 to the good. Clan levelled again through a bullet shot from Travis Ehrhardt, but once again Belfast found a way to nudge ahead through Kyle Baun. Gerard Hanson tapped in to equalise once more, but Riley’s goal two seconds from time, poking the puck under Glasgow goalie Joel Rumpel giving them the win, meaning Clan are in the last chance saloon when Dundee visit later this week.