Cardiff Fire gave highly experienced Mark Cuddihy a unique ice hockey experience at Ice Arena Wales.
Cuddihy, a former player and coach who has been involved in the sport for more than a quarter of a century, was stunned by Fire’s astonishing victory against Bracknell Hornets.
Fire hit back from 9-6 down with five minutes 20 seconds left to force overtime and then Hungarian-born Tamas Elias fired a dramatic winner.
“It was mind-blowing, one of those games when you just could not believe what had happened,” says Cuddihy. “We were three goals down with five minutes left against a team who are joint favourites for the title.
“The boys scored four goals in eight minutes to win the match. We began to believe at 9-8 down, pulled the goalie and levelled the scores with 18 seconds left.
“Momentum was with us and everybody, fans, players and staff, celebrated when Tamas scored the winner. I have never, ever seen anything like that before.
“Bracknell are joint favourites to be crowned champions and that makes it special.”
Fire’s big weekend came after a week in which club officials Chris Douglas (coach), Manny (assistant coach), Cuddihy, Mark Smith (director of player development) and the team had clear the air meetings following defeated in their opening two fixtures.
“That team spirit wasn’t there in the first two fixtures, but we had a chat and changed a few things in terms of training,” said Cuddihy. “The boys had a really good session and reacted well.
“Now we need them to react in the right way and keep this spirit going.
“There were 19 goals, two fights and a magnificent comeback. Everybody who watched this game will surely be back for our next fixture – and they should bring a friend.”
Cardiff Devils are the number one team in Cardiff and the UK, having won the Elite League title for two successive seasons, and Fire are firmly number two.
The next home fixture for Fire is against Lee Valley Lions on Sunday, October 28, an evening when Devils are away against Coventry Blaze in the Challenge Cup.
Former Devils player Manny is a key man in the Fire team and scored the critical eighth goal in the win against Hornets.
“I have to apologise for our first two performances (v Basingstoke 4-5, Slough 2-7) when we were off the mark where we needed to be,” he said.
“We studied the video footage and put together a training session where we addressed some of the issues. It was really intense and the boys responded well.
“We went into the Invicta match on Saturday shorthanded and then lost Josh Haslam and Sam Bryant in the first period.
“The boys put everything on the line and we earned a greasy road win. They showed amazing character and brought that into the home fixture against Hornets.
“We’re buzzing, absolutely buzzing. Bracknell are one of the top two teams in our league and we overturned them. We are proud of all the boys. A four-point weekend. Brilliant.
“We continued with the same practice this week, another back-to-basics session. We have to take that team spirit and attitude into the fixtures this weekend and keep the streak alive.
“The buzz in our changing room is alive.”
Price scored five goals and added an assist, leading the way to a second successive Fire win following their 4-2 win against Invicta away in Kent on Saturday.
Jordan Powell (2), Elias (2) and Manny were the other scorers against Bracknell.
Fire travel to play Bristol Pitbulls, who are currently based in Oxford, this Saturday.
They then go to Slough Jets on Saturday, October 28 before taking on Lee Valley Lions at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay the followed evening.
Cardiff Fire – next three fixtures:
Saturday 20 Bristol Pitbulls v Cardiff Fire (5pm)
Saturday 27 Slough Jets v Cardiff Fire (5.45pm)
Sunday 28 Cardiff Fire v Lee Valley Lions (6pm)
English Ice Hockey Association
|2||Oxford City Stars||6||6||0||0||0||78||48||16||12|
|9||Raiders Junior S2||4||2||0||0||2||151||18||18||4|
|14||Swindon Wildcats 2||4||0||0||0||4||74||8||37||0|
|15||Lee Valley Lions||5||0||0||0||5||107||7||71||0|