Rink round-up

Monday, 16th January 2006
Thursday's Knockout Cup action saw Basingstoke Bison at home to Cardiff Devils in the first leg of their tie, and a return from injury for Devils Captain Gerad Adams.
A scoreless first period gave way to second that favoured the Devils, with Louis Goulet finding the net in the 26th and 37th minute to give Cardiff a 0-2 lead going into the final period.  Phil Manny put the visitors further ahead before the Devils went into defensive mode, keeping the Bison at bay until Brett Larson netted a consolation goal six minutes from time, the game ending 1-3 to Cardiff.  The return leg is this coming Wednesday, 19th January.
Belfast Giants have announced the retirement through injury of Jason Ruff, who last iced for the team in December and returned home to Alberta, Canada for treatment over the Christmas period.  Ruff will be keeping in the hockey business, however, with his taking up of an offer of a position as Assistant Coach for a junior feeder team back home.  "I'm extremely sad to be leaving but I have been offered an opportunity in Canada and it's exactly the right move for me at this time of my career," says Ruff.
Despite the loss of Ruff, Belfast stayed focussed on the task at hand in their Knockout Cup match against Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday, with Colin Shields putting the cookie in the jar to give the Giants a one goal lead going into the first interval.  Curtis Huppe made it 2-0 in the latter stages of the second period, only for Matthew Rich to pull one back for the Caps.  Not to be outdone, Marc Levers restored the two goal lead just before the second interval.  Steve O'Brien made it 4-1 less than a minute after the restart, and a defensive period from the Giants saw the Caps reduced to one further goal through Neil McCann, the game ending 4-2 to the Giants.
Cardiff Devils were in Elite League action on Saturday night with a visit from Newcastle Vipers, and ex-London Racer Nathan Rempel put the home side a goal to the good in the first minute and Brad Voth repeating the feat in the second period. Corey Morgan got the Vipers off the mark with a goal in the 23rd minute to bring the scores to 2-1 only for Mike Garrow to net for the Devils twenty seconds later.  David Longstaff pulled one back for the Vipers before the second interval.  The third period looked to be ready to end scoreless when the Vipers pulled their netminder for the extra attacker, a move that backfired when Louis Goulet popped home the empty netter to take the game 4-2 to the Devils.
Nottingham were at home to local rivals Coventry Blaze on Saturday, with the Panthers netminder Curtis Cruikshank notching up a 33 shot shut-out in Nottingham's 4-0 win.  Brandin Cote opened the scoring followed by Matthew Myers to make it 2-0 in the first period, with Shaun Sutter netting in the second period and Cote netting his second of the night in the third period.
Sheffield Steelers hosted Basingstoke Bison on Saturday in league action, with Doug Sheppard opening the scoring for the Bison in the fifth minute only for Martin Masa to equalise less than a minute later.  In the second period Kent Simpson put the home team ahead with a powerplay marker inside the first minute, with Paul Sample putting the scoreline at 3-1 before Shawn Maltby netting for the Bison to bring the scores within one goal, a goal which Edijs Brahmanis posted in the 38th minute to tie the game going into the third.  Rod Sarich popped a shorthander in to give Sheffield the lead, and Ron Shudra sealed the game in the 54th minute, the game ending 5-3 but not before Dennis Maxwell and Michael Wales were both ejected at 57.43.
Sunday's action saw Sheffield at home again, this time to Cardiff Devils, and a Mark Dutiame goal in the opening minute set Sheffield on the road to the win.  Kent Simpson made it 2-0 going into the second period, where Phil Hill pulled one back for the Devils in the 26th minute.  Dennis Maxwell netted a powerplay marker just before the half hour mark to put the score at 3-1, and the Devils lost Nathan Rempel on a 5+Game penalty for elbowing before Louis Goulet clawed one back for Cardiff.  A controversial penalty shot in the third was converted by Mark Dutiame to seal the game 4-2 to Sheffield.
Newcastle Vipers pulled off a win over league leaders Belfast Giants in a ten goal thriller on Sunday, with David Longstaff and Karl Culley giving the home side a two nil lead inside the first ten minutes.  Curtis Huppe put the Giants on the board to set the scores at 2-1 going into the second period, where Andre Payette found the net for the Vipers and Shane Johnson and Colin Shields capitalising for the visitors, the score sitting at 3-3 at the start of the third.  Culley's second of the night gave Newcastle the lead, with two more Viper goals being responded to with a single goal from Theo Fleury for the Giants, Newcastle taking the game 6-4.
Basingstoke suffered from discipline problems in their Sunday visit to Coventry, with netminder Mark Bernard and forward Shawn Maltby both ejected in the first peiod.  Evan Cheverie opened the scoring in the fifth minute, with John Wheaton scoring the Bison's first and only goal of the night to make it 1-1.  Joel Poirier made it 2-1 early in the second period, then Dan Welch made it 3-1 before the start of the third.  Neal Martin opened the third period scoring before Welch racked up two more, giving him a hat-trick on the night.  Pavol Mihalik and Jeff Hutchins completed the rout, the game ending 8-1 to the Blaze.
by Richard Allan