Rink round-up

Monday, 23rd January 2006

Cardiff Devils advanced to the semi-finals of the British Knockout Cup with a draw against Basingstoke in the second leg of their quarter-final tie last Thursday.  Going in with a 3-1 lead from the first leg, Cardiff were the first to concede a goal, with Edijs Brahmanis putting the puck away after three minutes.  Devils veteran Vezio Sacratini tied the evening's scoreline before the first interval before Mike Garrow put the Devils ahead 2-1 (5-2 aggregate) early in the second.  Louis Goulet extended the Cardiff lead to 3-1 just after the half hour mark only for Doug Sheppard to claw one back for the Bison to make it 3-2 (6-3).  Nathan Rempel made it 4-2 in the final period, and game-tying goals from Shawn Maltby and Jerry Galway put the scoreline at 4-4 on the night, but the 7=5 aggregate score saw the Devils progress.

Friday night saw Belfast Giants at home to Nottingham Panthers in Elite League action and a top of the table clash, first place hosting second place.  Belfast got off the mark first, albeit with nine seconds remaining in a tight opening period, Curtis Huppe claiming the goal.  With two minutes to go in the second period the scores were level through Brandin Cote, but in the third the Panthers came out dominant, keeping the Giants down to just five shots compared to sixteen for Nottingham.  James Cooke found the net for the visitors early in the third period, and Blaz Emersic poked home an empty netter in the final minute to take the game 1-3 to Nottingham, gaining a valuable two points for the second place team.
If Belfast were left smarting from Friday night's defeat they didn't show it on Saturday when they took a trip to Basingstoke for an Elite League clash for an eleven goal thriller.  Todd Kelman opened the scoring for the Giants on the powerplay after five minutes, with Greg Chambers restoring the balance after fifteen.  Curtis Huppe put the Giants back in the driving seat before the interval, and Edijs Brahmanis restored parity just after it.  Kelman popped home his second to put Belfast ahead just before the half hour mark but a brace from Jim Shepherd saw Basingstoke take a 4-3 lead heading towards the second interval, only for Curtis Huppe to tie things up in the last minute of the period.  Kelman netted his hat-trick to give Belfast the edge early in the third, and a pair of markers for Theo Fleury saw Belfast skate away 7-4 winners.
Cardiff's recent signing Rejean Stringer made his mark early for the Devils in their Saturday home fixture against Edinburgh Capitals, opening the scoring with Louis Goulet adding a second within the first three minutes of the game.  Once the game settled down it became a tense affair, with no further scoring until the 36th minute when Matt Rich put the Caps on the scoreboard, the second period ending 2-1.  Phil Hill made it 3-1 in the third period, and a late marker from Martin Cingel wasn't enough to bring Edinburgh back into the game, with regulation time running out on a 3-2 scoreline.
Sheffield Steelers have announced the signing of defenceman Stefan Sjogren, who was released by Nottingham Panthers in compliance with the 11 import rule.  With Calle Carlsson returning to fitness, the Panthers found themselves with more import players than the league rules would allow, and reluctantly they had to release Sjogren.  Panthers Coach Mike Blaisdell was philosophical about the release.  "This was a hard decision because Stefan did a real good job for us, he's one of those steady players who is a great guy in the room and we will miss him, " said Coach Blaisdell. "In different circumstances he would have been a great fit for us, but with Calle Carlsson fit again, unfortunately someone had to make room."
Sheffield GM Dave Whistle was pleased to make the signing, saying "We all thought that Stefan was the Panthers' best defenceman against the Steelers in recent games and didn't expect Mike to release him.  Once he became available we moved quickly to advise his agent that we were interested."
Sheffield were at home on Saturday night to Newcastle Vipers in the first leg of their British Knockout Cup quart final tie, with the second leg being played on Tyneside the following night.  A scoreless first period in Sheffield gave way to the second, where Paul Sample found the net inside the first minute to give the Steelers the edge.  Mark Dutiame put a second on the board to give the home side a nice cushion, only for Rob Wilson to net a powerplay marker at the half hour mark to bring the scoreline back to 2-1.  Dutiame put the Steelers back two goals to the good in the third period, and the Vipers responded through Matus Petricko with the final goal of the night, regulation time ending on a 3-2 scorelined.
The second leg of the tie took place on Sunday at the home of the Vipers, the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, with the visiting Steelers taking a one goal aggregate lead into the game.  The lead was evaporated when ex-Steeler David Longstaff opened the scoring for Newcastle, putting the Vipers 1-0 up on the night, drawing the scores 3-3 on aggregate.  A goal-less second period left everything to play for in the third, and it was Jonathan Weaver who broke the deadlock with a Vipers goal seven minutes from time.  But Sheffield refuse to lie down, and took advantage of a powerplay opportunity to draw the scores level through Dennis Maxwell.  With no further goals coming in regulation, the game went all the way to a penalty shoot-out.  David Longstaff and Mark Dutiame traded goals before Dennis Maxwell put the Steelers ahead by beating Trevor Koenig, and when Jody Lehman made the save from Jonathan Weaver's attempt the game was over, Sheffield progressing to the semi-finals to take on Cardiff Devils.
Cardiff themselves were in Challenge Cup action on Sunday, on the first leg of the Final against Coventry Blaze.  Martin Klempa proved to be the hero of the hour for the Blaze, posting a 35 shot shut-out to keep the visiting Devils at bay, whilst his opposite number Peter Aubrey conceded three goals from thirty one shots.  Barrie Moore opened the scoring for Blaze, with a follow-up from Joel Poirier reaching a club milestone with his 100th Blaze goal to put the scoreline at 2-0.  Jeff Hutchins made it 3-0, all within the first thirteen minutes of the game, unsettling Cardiff enough to call a time out.  A bad tempered second period saw Graham Belak and Regan Darby both ejected for fighting following an altercation between Belak and Mike Garrow, but the period ended scoreless, and a similarly scoreless third saw Coventry sitting pretty with a three goal lead ahead of the second leg.  Cardiff Coach Ed Patterson was deeply disappointed with the result, saying "The guys played hard, the score is not indicative of how the game was played.  The shots on Aubry were unfortunate but the guys battled back and Aubry came up with some big saves too.  Coventry were lucky for us not to have scored although Klempa played well for them.  If we keep working that hard and score a goal per period in the second leg, we're back in this game."  The second leg will take place this coming Saturday, January 28th.
Edinburgh Capitals were at home on Sunday against Basingstoke Bison in a bottom of the table clash.  The Caps opened the scoring through Mike Sandbeck after ten minutes only for Edijs Brahmanis to level the scores a minute later.  Going into the second with level scores, it was Dino Bauba who capitalised on a powerplay opportunity to give the Caps the edge.  Neil Stevenson-Moore and Martin Cingel made it 4-1 before Jim Shepherd put away a powerplay goal to make it 4-2 just before the second interval.  Tony Hand made it 5-2 in the third and less than a minute later Mike Sandbeck netted his second of the night to settle the scores at 6-2, and the emphatic win for the Bison saw the gap at the bottom of the table closed to only two points.
by Richard Allan