Rink round-up

Monday, 13th March 2006
This week's edition of Rink Round-Up sees the action start in Nottingham last Wednesday, when the Panthers played host to the newly crowned Elite League Champions, Belfast Giants.  With the title in the bag, Belfast seemed to have taken their foot off the gas, failing to put the puck in the Nottingham net, giving Panthers netminder Curtis Cruickshank a 25 shot shut-out.  Ex-Manchester Storm forward Joe Cardarelli opened the scoring on the powerplay in the 11th minute for the home team, and another powerplay goal in the second period, this time from Brad Patterson, gave Nottingham the 2-0 win.
The following night Belfast were in action again, this time in the second leg of their semi-final tie against Coventry Blaze in the British Knock Out Cup.  With Coventry sitting ahead 4-3 on aggregate before the puck had dropped, the pressure was back on Belfast as they fought to keep themselves in the contest.  It was Coventry who opened the scoring, Tom Watkins finding the net in the fourth minute to make it 1-0 on the night, 5-3 on aggregate, before Curtis Huppe equalised towards the end of the first period.  Huppe's second of the night was a powerplay marker that set the scores at 1-2, 5-5 on aggregate, only for Adam Calder to push the Blaze ahead less than a minute later.  Tom Carlon put the home team 3-2 to the good, 7-5 on aggregate before the second interval.  In the third period Huppe bagged his hat-trick goal  and a marker from Marc Levers saw the Giants take the lead on the night and tie the game on aggregate at 7-7.  With two minutes on the clock remaining, it was down to Jeff Hutchins to put in a pair of goals to seal the win for Coventry and knock Belfast out of the tournament, the match ending 5-4 on the night, 9-7 on aggregate.  Coventry advance to the Final where they will face Sheffield Steelers.
Basingstoke have continued their quest to stay off the bottom spot of the league table this weekend with a home and away tie with Cardiff Devils, starting on Saturday on the Bison home ice.  Doug Sheppard opened the scoring for the Bison in the first period, only for Rejean Stringer to tie the scores before the interval.  A scoreless second period gave way to a goal-filled third, where Cardiff squeaked ahead through Jonathan Phillips and Mike Garrow before Greg Chambers pulled one back for the Bison.  With the scores sitting at 2-3, Kirk deWaele extended the Cardiff lead before Brad Cruickshank and Soug Sheppard tied the scores at 4-4, taking the game to a scorless overtime period, the teams sharing the points.
Newcastle Vipers were hosting Coventry Blaze on Saturday night in Elite League action, with Ashley Tait putting the visitors ahead halfway through the first period.  Coventry extended their lead in the second through Dan Welch and again through Joel Poirier,the Blaze sitting pretty at 0-3 before the Vipers got off the mark through Michael Tasker early in the third.  Paul Ferone pulled another back within two minutes, and with the pressure now back on the Blaze, the Vipers held up their attack until a powerplay for the Blaze was converted by Evan Cheverie, who put the biscuit in the basket to set the scores at 2-4 to Coventry as the clock ran out.
Edinburgh Capitals spent their Saturday night in Sheffield taking on the Steelers, who were ruthless in their efforts to keep the Caps down at the bottom of the table.  Rod Sarich opened the scoring inside of two minutes to give Sheffield the lead only for Peter Konder to equalise less than a minute later.  Mark Dutiame posted a solo effort to restore the Sheffield lead and Martin Masa made it 3-1 going into the first interval.  The second period was scoreless, but Masa made it onto the stats sheet by receiving his marching orders for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Dutiame posted his second of the night to make it 4-1 in the third, then a brace from ex-London Racer Jason Robinsons settled the game, Sheffield running out 6-1 winners.
The Steelers were less fortunate on Sunday with their away fixture against the Blaze at the Skydome in Coventry.  Adam Calder popped home a solo marker to open the scoring for the home team in the fourth minute, and Jeff Hutchins made it 2-0 halfway through the first period.  Kent Simpson got Sheffield off the mark and Martin Masa levelled the scores going into the third period,where Hutchins posted his second of the night to restore the Coventey lead.  Jonas Lennartsson retied the game six minutes from time, only for Joel Poirier and Neal Martin to spoil the party, Coventry taking the points in the 5-3 win.
Newcastle Vipers were at home to Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, with the Panthers looking to maintain their third place spot in the table.  A scoreless first period and a nearly scoreless second saw the first goal pop in the net less than a minute and a half before the second interval, Jan Krajicek scoring the Vipers' only goal of the game.  David Clarke found the net early in the third to tie the game, before Blaz Emersic put the Panthers ahead on the powerplay.  Ex-Stormer Curtis Bowen extended the lead also on the powerplay, and Dan Ceman rounded off the scoring, Newcastle 1 Nottingham 4 the final score.
Edinburgh Capitals were at home to Belfast Giants on Sunday in a league bottom-versus-top clash which went all the way to overtime.  Neil Stevenson-Moore opened the Caps account halfway through the first period, and Belfast responded in kind, first through Todd Kelman and then through Theo Fleury to give Belfast a 1-2 advantage by the first interval.  At the midpoint of the match it was 1-3, thanks to Shawn Skiehar, but Stevenson-Moore wasn't done yet, posting two more goals to claim his hat-trick and tie the game up going into the third period.  Steve O'Brien put the visitors ahead, before a late goal from Mike Kiesman with just over a minute remaining on the clock forced the game to overtime, where Ed Courtenay netted to take the win for the visitors, final score Edinburgh 4 Belfast 5 after OT.
Ex-Manchester Storm netminder Mark Bernard was between the pipes for Basingstoke on Sunday in the second leg of their home-and-away weekender with Cardiff Devils.  Player-Coach Bernard notched up an impressive 44 shot shut-out as his team ran out 0-3 winners over the Welsh squad, taking valuable points to keep the Bison off the bottom of the table.  Doug Sheppard put home the first Bison goal in the eighth minute, and John Wheaton scored in both the second and third periods to give Basingstoke the win.
by Richard Allan