It was a full calendar of games on Sunday with four league and one Challenge Cup matches taking place. Cardiff and Sheffield’s wins were both important for different reasons, while Guildford ended Belfast’s fine run and MK kept that Challenge Cup hopes alive.
Cardiff Devils 7-2 Fife Flyers
The reigning champions vs. the league leaders was always going to be a big affair, but it was the Devils who came out on top with a commanding win. Joey Martin and Gleason Fournier had the Devils into an early lead inside ten minutes, but the Flyers pulled a goal back through Brett Bulmer with a minute left in the opening period to keep things interesting.
The second belonged to the Devils however. Mike Hedden re-established their two-goal lead oat 14:58, and then two goals in 34 seconds from Sean Bentivoglio and Matt Pope (16:25 and 16:59) respectively had the Devils four ahead. Jake Morissette rounded off a fantastic period for the hosts by making it 6-1 with 57 seconds left. Evan Bloodoff added a late penalty shot to bring the scoreline back to 7-2, a win with which the Devils moved to within two points of the top of the table.
Sheffield Steelers 4-3 Manchester Storm
The Sheffield Steelers finally got their first win under new Head Coach Tom Barrasso as the Yorkshire side eded their negative series with the visit of the Manchester Storm.
Rob Dowd gave the Steelers the perfect start with a goal after just 17 seconds, and things got better for the home side on 5:50 with Tanner Eberle converting shorthanded to double that lead. When Josh Pitt made it three with 31:07 played it looked like the game was all-but done. However the Storm weren’t going to give things up lightly, and were back to a two-goal deficit thanks to Logan McMillan’s goal just 2:29 later. Heading into the final period with a lead, the Steelers needed less than nine minutes to move back three ahead – Stefan Della Rovere getting what turned out to be the game winner with 48:58 on the clock.
The Storm again threatened the comeback though, Marcus Barasa cutting it to 4-2 only 31 seconds later. A late goal with 59:59 on the board from Mike Hammond made the scoreline 4-3 but wasn’t enough to deny the Steelers and Barrasso their first win together.
Dundee Stars 1-2 Nottingham Panthers
After a disappointing weekend in Scotland the Nottingham Panthers got their first win of the road trip thanks to an OT win in Dundee.
After a scoreless opening period, the Panthers went ahead 26 seconds into the middle session thanks to Brett Perlini, but were unable to hold the lead into the break. Lukas Lundvald tied the game up with 1:02 left on the second to tie things up. Neither team was able to break the deadlock in the final 20 minutes of regulation time, and so into overtime it fell to Alexandre Bolduc to win it for the visitors with 61:13 played, scoring his first Panthers goal.
The win put the Panthers back top of the table by a point.
Guildford Flames 3-2 Belfast Giants
Calle Ackered’s powerplay goal with five minutes from time ensured Guildford Flames took both points from Belfast Giants to end their three-game weekend on a low note.
Adam Keefe’s men were eyeing up maximum points after two consecutive wins over Milton Keynes Lightning, but fell short as the Flames got their first league win in three.
The home side took the lead just after six minutes when Kruise Reddick scored on the powerplay, just 13 seconds after David Rutherford took a seat for slashing. But Giants were level shortly after through Darcy Murphy, take one on unassisted and both teams were tied after the first period. Ackered got his first of the night five as the second period entered its final stages, with Guildford reclaiming their lead. Belfast were back on level terms through Kyle Baun to set up a fascinating third period. It was touch and go until Ackered’s winner clinched the points for the Guildford, ending Giants’ run of nine straight victories.
Challenge Cup: Coventry Blaze 1-2 MK Lightning
A big road win for the MK Lightning kept up their hopes of making the Challenge Cup next round as they won the derby game in Coventry.
In a tight game at the SkyDome, it was MK who took the lead in the opening period – Martin Mazanec putting the Lightning ahead after just 5:44. It was a lead they help for over 20 minutes until David Clements got the host back level with 26:32 played, but the Blaze didn’t stay on level terms for very long. Some two minutes later the Lightning were back in front, Andreas Valdix converting to regain the lead for his side with 38:56 gone.
The Blaze were unable to capitalise on two powerplays towards the end of the final period, allowing the Lightning to take both points.