Rink round up - extra

Friday, 25th February 2005

Thursday night saw two tournaments decided, with the National Cup being claimed in Belfast and the Challenge Cup being settled in Cardiff.  Belfast's cross-league win over Guildford Flames in overtime was enough to secure them an unreachable top-spot in the National Cup standings, despite Guildford having opened the scoring through Rastislav Palov in the second period.  Tony Hand drew the game level only for defenceman Neil Liddiard to push the visitors ahead.  Ex-Phoenix forward George Awada stepped up to net two goals and put the game at 3-2 to the home team before Nick Cross equalised for the BNL outfit, and the scores stayed level for the rest of regulation time.  The Overtime session saw Roman Gavalier find the net for the Giants, and the win took them all the way to the National Cup.

Down in Cardiff, the second leg of the Challenge Cup Final was played out between the Cardiff Devils and the Coventry Blaze.  Coventry went into the game on the back of a 6-1 win in the first leg, but the Devils came out fighting, with Jon Cullen trading goals with Ashley Tait before John Craighead traded punches with Andre Payette.  Dave Matsos, Nathan Repel and Vezio Sacratini spearheaded a Devils drive to close the deficit and put Cardiff 4-1 up on the night, 5-7 on aggregate, but the Coventry team rallied round and replied through Russ Cowley and Tom Watkins to make it 4-3 on the night, 5-9 on aggregate.  Wade Belak and Kirk DeWaele became the fourth and fifth players to be ejected from the game, with Chris McNamara being ejected earlier for Third Man In.  Jozef Lukac tied the game on the night to push the trophy out of Cardiff's grasp and Bari McKenzie sealed the game 4-5 on the night, 5-11 overall.  Ashley Tait accepted the trophy on behalf of the Blaze.

Cardiff Coach Dave Whistle was quick to point the finger and explain the Devils' loss to the Blaze:  "We played with a lot of emotion tonight which is a good thing, but the referee blew the challenge cup for the Cardiff Devils. We were all over them and would have scored a 5th and a 6th no problem I know for a fact we would. It’s really disheartening; he changed the whole game and did a very poor job."

“Coventry have a great team, I don’t want to take anything away from their team. We really did lose it up in Coventry for sure but the way we were playing tonight, the referee really blew our chances to win it,”  Whistle added.

Wednesday night's action saw Nottingham Panthers hosting the Dundee Stars, with the home team's Konstantin Kalmikov proving the hero with a hat trick.  Dundee were first off the mark, with Patric Lochi finding the net in the first period, only for Kalmikov to open his account with the equaliser.  Iam Moran put the Panthers 2-1 up at the break.  Kalmikov pushed the game to 3-1 and then 4-1 in the second, with Patric Lochi netting his second of the game late in the period to make it 4-2.  David Clarke and Richard Wojciak put the game to bed with Panthers goals in the third, sending the visitors home on the wrong end of a 6-2 scoreline.

by Richard Allan

Rank Team Name Played Won Drawn Lost G GA Points Goal Difference
1 Coventry Blaze 44 28
5 11
154 87 66 67
2 Belfast Giants 44 28
6 10
143 83 63 60
3 Cardiff Devils 43 28
3 12
138 98 60 40
4 Nottingham Panthers 47 24
5 18
134 95 59 39
5 Sheffield Steelers 45 23
4 18
105 97 53 8
6 London Racers 43 17
7 19
97 107 42 -10
7 Basingstoke Bison 46 12
5 29
108 166 31 -58