Devils draw first blood in Cardiff double-header

Wednesday, 11th March 2009

Cardiff Devils 3 - 1 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix travelled to South Wales on Wednesday for the first of two back-to-back games in the Welsh capital against the Cardiff Devils. With both sides locked in a battle for a fifth place finish in the bmibaby Elite League table, the home side were desperate to claw back the two point lead the Phoenix had opened up courtesy of three wins last week.

An entertaining opening session saw plenty of flowing hockey Phoenix and goalmouth action at both ends. The Devils worked hard to kill an early penalty against Wes Jarvis and his next important contribution was to fire the Devils into a 16th minute lead capitalising on a feed from Phil Hill. A brief exchange with Brett Clouthier then saw Jarvis and the Phoenix player sit out Roughing minors and the home side took the slender lead to the first break.

The hometown Devils again enjoyed more of the possession in the second period although they ran into stiff opposition from a Phoenix team trying to conserve a degree of energy for Thursday evening’s game. Phoenix captain Kenton Smith was penalised for Holding just before the half hour mark, but again the defence stood firm to keep the Cardiff powerplay at bay and take the game into the final session with just the one goal scored.

The Devils powerplay made it third time lucky early in the final period as with Alex Dunn sin-binned for Roughing in the 42nd minute, the home side doubled their lead, Jason Silverthorn netting on assists from MacIver and Hill. Phoenix went shorthanded again with Bruce Mulherin off for High Sticks in the 46th minute and Dunn joined him, this time for Slashing to give the home side a short two-man advantage. Despite getting Mulherin back into the action, Phoenix were unable to prevent Cardiff notching their third goal of the game and second on the powerplay, Mike Prpich the scorer. The goal however was disputed by the Phoenix and after questioning the decision, Tony Hand was assessed a 10-minute Misconduct penalty that saw him take no further part in the game. Phoenix prevented Peter Aubry in the home goal from recording a clean sheet as Brett Clouthier scored a 57th minute consolation goal.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand commented, “I take nothing away from Cardiff tonight, they played a very solid game, shut us down well despite a good effort by our guys and got the result. I thought our guys worked hard, but the effects of the punishing schedule we’re on right now showed up a little tonight in some fatigue. We’ll take it easy during the day on Thursday as we prepare for the second of these two games.”

Phoenix face the Devils again on Thursday evening, before a trip to Basingstoke on Saturday and a home game on Sunday in Altrincham against the Newcastle Vipers at 5.30pm.

Brett Clouthier

Brett Clouthier managed to get through the tough Cardiff defence in the 57th minute to spoil their hopes of a shutout

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