Rink round up

Monday, 4th April 2005

Last Tuesday's Play-Off activity saw games in both groups, with London Racers trying to keep their hopes alive with a fixture against Nottingham Panthers, and with Belfast Giants hosting the Sheffield Steelers.   London proved the surprising victors over the Panthers, with Steve Moria, Dennis Maxwell, Jeremy Cornish and Ian McIntyre findin the net for the Racers.  Nottingham could only answer with two goals,  London taking the match 4-2.   Belfast's game against Sheffield was a much tighter affair, with both teams coming out of the gates at full pelt.  Belfast found the net through Shane Johnson twice, Todd Kelman, Fredrik Nasvall and Jason Bowen, and Sheffield were on the scoreboard through Les Millie, Mike Peron, Erik Anderson twice, and Daryl Andrews, the match ending Belfast 5 Sheffield 5.

Wednesday saw Nottingham and London in action against each other again, this time at the NIC in Nottingham.  Denis Ladouceur and Mark Gouett found the net for the Racers but the scoring efforts of Nick Boynton, Matt Kyers, Mikhail Nemirovsky and Konstantin Kalmikov meant that Nottingham took the game 4-2.  Belfast were on the road with a visit to Wales to take on the Cardiff Devils, but the Devils were in fine form, a brace of goals from Vezio Sacratini and a marker from Jon Cullen plus a water-tight defence combined to take the game 3-0 for the Devils, eliminating the Belfast Giants from the competition.

Coventry's quest to secure top billing in the Play-Off semis continued with a home fixture against London Racers on Thursday.  With the game remaining scoreless through the first and second period, it took until the third before Dan Carlson found the net twice to take the game 2-0 for the Blaze.  Belfast were playing for the third night on the trot with a home tie against Sheffield Steelers, with honours being split evenly with a 2-2 final score.

Nottingham were at home to Coventry on Saturday evening, with the already-qualified Blaze taking part in their final play-off group game.  Ashley Tait was on form for the Blaze, finding the net twice.  Tait's goals were added to by Chris McNamara and Josef Lukac, but it was Nottingham's David Clarke who proved the hero of the hour, netting a hat-trick for the Panthers.  Calle Carlsson and Konstantin Kalmikov also found the net for the home team, the Panthers edging the game 5-4.

Cardiff secured their place at the top of Group B with a road win over struggling Belfast Giants.  Jon Cullen and Curt Bowen traded goals in the opening period before Cardiff piled on the misery with goals from Nathan Rempel, Phil Hill and John Craighead to take the game 1-4.

Sunday night's on-ice action saw the London Racers pull out all the stops to get a win over the Nottingham Panthers, despite already being eliminated from the play-offs.  Denis Ladouceur opened the scoring for the Racers inside of four minutes only for Konstantin Kalmikov to equalise before the break. Matthew Foord and Steve Moria put the Racers up at 3-1 with goals only thirty second apart, in the second period.  Kalmikov found the net again and then David Clarke tied up the game going into the second interval.  But the third period belonged to the Racers, with goals coming from Ladouceur, Ladoucer again, ex-Phoenixer Mark Thomas and Jim Vickers, the game ending London Racers 7 Nottingham Panthers 3.

Cardiff Devils fell to a home defeat when the Steelers visited, but having already secured the top spot in group B the Devils had the luxury of resting some key players including Jason Cugnet, who sat on the bench whilst Mike Brabon took over between the pipes.  Sheffield found the net through Daryl Andrews, Gerad Adams and Mark Dutiame, taking the game 0-3 with Sheffield netminder Davey Lawrence notching up a 33 shot shut-out.    

The results mean that in next Saturday's semi finals at the NIC in Nottingham, Coventry Blaze will face the Sheffield Steelers, and Cardiff Devils will face Nottingham Panthers in the battle for a place in the Play-Off Final on Sunday.

by Richard Allan