Rink round-up

Monday, 30th January 2006
Cardiff Devils are the new holders of the Challenge Cup, having overcome a deficit going into the second leg of the Final on Saturday night to tie up the game and take the trophy to a penalty shoot-out.  Coventry Blaze were on top at the start of the match, riding high on a three goal lead secured in the first leg at the Skydome, but the return leg at the WNIR in Cardiff was all about the Devils, who came out hard and fast to put the puck in the net after only twenty seconds through Nathan Rempel.  Tense end to end action and a rack of penalties saw the first period expire with no further goals, but the Devils on target to fulfil Coach Ed Patterson's aim of a goal in each period. The target was further met in the third minute of the second period when Rempel popped home his second the bring the scores to 2-0, 2-3 on aggregate.  Rempel also had a hand in the game-tying goal, feeding the puck to Gerad Adams who slid the biscuit past Martin Klempa into the Coventry net to put the score at 3-0 and send the Devils fans wild.  Blaze Coach Paul Thompson called a time-out to settle his Coventry players before relaunching their offensive, a strategy that paid off in the thirty seventh minute when Jeff Hutchins fired the puck past Peter Aubrey in the Cardiff net to give the Blaze the one goal lead. 
Coventry sat back and defended their lead for the rest of the period and for most of the third, a tactic that was successful right until the final minute of the game, when Coach Ed Patterson called a time-out and on the resultant play Nathan Rempel put the puck away with twenty seconds on the clock to net his hat-trick and to tie the scores at 4-4 on aggregate.  A tense overtime period saw neither team able to capitalise, and that meant the game was heading to a penalty shoot-out.  The first five shots for each team were saved, Martin Klempa and Peter Aubrey both standing on their heads to keep their teams in the game.  The sixth Coventry shot came from former Manchester Storm forward Barrie Moore, whose attempt was denied by Aubrey, setting the stage for Rejean Stringer to face Klempa to poke the puck into the Coventry net and take the game, 5-4 after penalties.  The Challenge Cup trophy was presented to Cardiff captain Gerad Adams, who passed the cup on to Mark Richardson to lift aloft in tribute to his father Dave who passed away last week.
The week's League action started on Wednesday in Newcastle, with the Vipers at home against the Edinburgh Capitals.  The home team were looking to complete a clean sweep against the Caps, and achieved the feat to give them four home wins from four matches against the Scottish outfit.  Cory Morgan and Matus Petricko gave the Vipers a two goal lead going into the first interval, and Karl Culley extended the lead to 3-0 just over three minutes after the restart.  Mike Sandbeck put the Caps on the scoreboard less than a minute later, but Morgan's second of the night restored Newcastle's three goal lead just before the second interval.  Shaun Johnson put away Newcastle's fifth goal halfway through the third period, and a consolation marker from Sandbeck saw the game end 5-2 to the Vipers.
The Caps fared better on Saturday with a road trip down to Sheffield to take on the Steelers at the Hallam FM Arena.  A scoreless first period gave way to a scoreless second, and with the home team looking more and more nervous they redoubled their efforts against Edinburgh, with Martin Masa opening the scoring for the home team in the forty fifth minute.  Tony Hand equalised just before the fifty minute mark, and the Caps took the lead through Martin Cingel two minute later.  Neil Stevenson-Moore added another Caps goal with just over three minutes remaining to make it 1-3, and Mark Dutiame pulled it back to 2-3 with just over a minute remaining in regulation time.  Sheffield pulled their netminder to give the man advantage, a risky move that didn't pay off, Tony Hand popping home an empty netter to seal the game 2-4, allowing the Caps to close the gap on Basingstoke at the bottom of the table.
Basingstoke themselves were away at Belfast on Saturday night, facing the Giants in a ten-goal thriller of a game.  The Bison got off to a strong start, Greg Chambers opening the scoring before a pair of Doug Sheppard powerplay markers put the scoreline at 0-3 by the fourteenth minute.  Belfast got off the mark with a goal from Jason Bowen to put the scoreline at 1-3 going into the first interval, but penalty problems cost the Giants early in the second when Shawn Maltby was able to pop away a powerplay marker to restore the Bison's three goal lead.  Ex-Phoenix captain George Awada posted a solo effort to put the scores at 2-4 just before the second interval, and in the third period it was Belfast all the way, Curtis Huppe bringing the scores to within one goal before Ed Courtenay posted the equaliser.  Theo Fleury put the Giants ahead and Awada's second of the night sealed the deal, the game ending 6-4 to the Giants.
The Bison followed up Saturday's tough game with another tough game on Sunday, this time at home to Sheffield Steelers, who themselves were smarting from their defeat to Edinburgh.  Ex-London Racer Dennis Maxwell opened the scoring, finding the net for the Steelers on the powerplay after five minutes, and early in the second period Mark Dutiame extended the lead to 0-2 before the Bison fight-back began, Doug Sheppard getting Basingstoke off the mark.  Early in the third period Brad Cruickshank tuied the scores with a solo effort and forced the game to overtime, where Bison netminder Mark Bernard picked up a match penalty for abuse of an official and Mark Dutiame was awarded a penalty goal to give Sheffield the overtime win, 2-3 (OT).
Nottingham Panthers were at home on Sunday to Newcastle Vipers in a vital clash between the second and third placed teams.  A scoreless first period kept the tension high, the Vipers piling on the pressure, but it was Joe Cardarelli who scored on the powerplay in the second period to give the home team the lead.  Vipers outshot Nottingham 52 to 22 but it wasn't until the final minute of the game that they were able to break their duck, David Longstaff putting the puck away to take the game to overtime.  Andre Payette recevied his skating orders for a second misconduct penalty, and a scoreless overtime period saw the game end in a tie, 1-1 (OT).
Edinburgh's run of form continued on Sunday when they were at home to the newly crowned Challenge Cup champions Cardiff Devils.  The Caps piled on the pressure from the get-go, Neil Stevenson-Moore opening the scoring after two minutes and Peter Konder adding the second goal twenty seconds later.  Cardiff responded through Brad Voth in the fourth minute and Gerad Adams tied the scores in the sixth.  Matthew Rich put the Caps back in the driving seat with a solo effort in the thirteenth minute, and the first period wound up with a 3-2 scoreline.  A tight second period saw only one goal, Konder's second of the night to give the Caps a 4-2 lead going into the third, where Jonathan Phillips pulled one back for the Devils only for Konder and Jim Vickers to post goals and take the match 6-3, giving them further valuable points in their quest to lift themselves from the bottom of the table.
Defeated Challenge Cup finalists Coventry Blaze were at home to league leaders Belfast Giants on Sunday night, and it was ex-Phoenixer George Awada who opened the scoring in the thirty fifth minute only for Andreas Moborg to equalise less than a minute later.  The deciding goal came from Todd Kelman, and a scoreless third period saw Belfast take the points with a 1-2 scoreline.
by Richard Allan