Rink round up

Wednesday, 9th February 2005

February has so far been a mixed bag of results in the Elite League and National Cup competitions, with tense overtime deciders being lodged alongside double-figure scorelines.  The Cardiff Devils kicked off their February with a home game against the Belfast Giants in which Dave Whistle's Welsh team pushed to two goal lead through Jason Becker and Warren Tait inside ten minutes.  Ex-Phoenixer George Awada led the fightback, finding the net late in the first to get the Giants on the scoreboard, and late in the second Fredrik Nasvall tied the game at two apiece.  Overtime couldn't separate the teams, the 2-2 scoreline standing after 65 minutes.

Cardiff were on the road in Coventry on Saturday night, with the Blaze sitting pretty at the top of the Elite League table.  Neal Martin put the Blaze ahead in the first period, and Russell Cowley extended the lead to two in the second. John Cullen found the net for the Devils to bring the game within one, and then Jeff Burgoyne put the bicsuit in the basket to tie the game.  But the Blaze weren't finished, as Ashley Tait and then Dan Carlson put the game at 4-2 to Coventry, further securing their position at the top of the table.

The presence of ex-Phoenix coach Paul Heavey behind the Steelers bench seems to be paying off already, with the Sheffield team paying a Saturday night visit to their rivals Nottingham Panthers. A strong performance in the Sheffield net by Jayme Platt saw the score remain locked at nil nil at the first interval despite being outshot by the home team.  The Steelers upped the pace in the second, piling the pressure on the Nottingham outfit but with no score to show for their trouble.  It took until the 58th minute for the deadlock to be broken, with Gerard Adams finding the net for the Steelers to take the win.  Panthers coach Paul Adey wasn't best pleased with the outcome of the game, picking up a misconduct penalty at the end of the match.

Basingstoke notched up a surprise win over Belfast on Saturday with a strong performance that saw the home team net within 25 seconds through Jason Norrie.  Ex-Manchester Storm forward Curt Bowen equalised for the visitors only for Doug Sheppard to put the home team ahead.  Bowen drew the teams level again, but two goals in the third period for Steve Gallace and Mike Ford gave the home team a 4-2 win and some valuable league points.

Sunday night's action saw the Devils take out their frustrations on the Fife Flyers in National Cup competition, as the Scottish side paid a visit to the Wales National Ice Rink.  Markers from Dave Matsos and Vezio Sacratini set the ball rolling, with further goals from Warren Tait, Matsos again, Russ Romaniuk and Phil Manny in a blistering five minute span putting the game at six goals to none.  Adrain Saul found the net for the visitors only for his effort to be countered by John Cullen and then Rob Davison.  Nathan Rempel and Jonathan Phillips were keen to get their names on the scoresheet too, and a marker from Fife's Todd Dutiame proving little consolation.  John Craighead sealed the match in the final two minutes, netting the last goal of an impressive 11-2 Cardiff victory.

Newcastle Vipers have made the news for financial reasons this week, but on the ice they played host to Nottingham Panthers in National Cup competition on Sunday.  A tight game saw ex-Stormer Rob Wilson put the Vipers on the board first only for Scott Ricci to equalise straight away.  Hilton Ruggles dropped the gloves with Marek Ivan late in the third, but the scoreline stayed at one apiece at the end of regular time.  A marker from Ian Moran took the game 1-2 to the Panthers in overtime.

Coventry's high-flying run at the top of the Elite League clearly doesn't impress the BNL, as their Sunday fixture in the National Cup saw the Blaze take a road trip to Dundee to take on the Stars.  A lone marker from Scott Barnes saw the game's only goal, with the home team notching up a one-nil win over the Elite table-toppers.

Brit player Richard Hargreaves found the net for the London Racers in their home fixture against Belfast on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to keep the Giants from gaining the win with three goals, one scored in each period.

by Richard Allan

Rank Team Name Played Won Drawn Lost G GA Points Goal Difference
1 Coventry Blaze 40 24
5 11
141 82 58 59
2 Belfast Giants 39 24
6 9
126 74 55 52
3 Cardiff Devils 39 25
3 11
123 89 54 34
4 Nottingham Panthers 41 20
5 16
114 86 51 28
5 Sheffield Steelers 41 22
3 16
100 89 50 11
6 London Racers 38 13
7 18
77 96 34 -19
7 Basingstoke Bison 41 11
5 25
103 145 29 -42