Cardiff Devils 3, Mountfield HK 2
Cardiff Devils stand top of their group, one point ahead of Graz 99ers, after the opening Champions Hockey League fixtures.
Blair Riley, Mike McNamee and Charles Linglet scored Cardiff’s goals on a memorable evening at the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay.
The next CHL test for Devils is against Austrians Graz 99ers at the same venue on Sunday (4pm).
Devils were without captain Joey Martin, ruled out by a minor injury, while new Finnish forward Matias Sointu flew into the UK during Friday afternoon and was not involved.
Sointu, though, looks certain to ice in Sunday’s clash with 99ers.
Joey Haddad, Sean Bentivoglio and Riley linked up on Cardiff’s first line against Mountfield, while Masi Marjamaki, Stephen Dixon and Sam Duggan were on the second line.
You were amazing last night Red Army – how about we make it even louder tomorrow? 🔊
Can we make it the first #HellOut of the season?
— Cardiff Devils (@cardiffdevils) August 31, 2019
Linglet, McNamee and Matthew Pope joined forces, while Josh Batch, Matthew Myers and Toms Rutkis completed Devils offensive line-up.
The pairings on D were Mark Richardson and Gleason Fournier, Sam Jardine and Bryce Reddick, Sean McMonagle and Mark Louis.
Both teams were looking to start their CHL campaign with a win after both finished bottom of their respective groups in the previous two attempts.
Mountfield, from the Czech Republic, started strongly and went ahead when Radovan Pavlík scored with a one-time blast from the right midway through the first.
Devils made it 1-1 on a 5v3 powerplay after 31 minutes 11 seconds. Some nice passing set up a shot from Pope and despite goalie Marek Mazenec’s best efforts, the puck went loose to Riley, who levelled the score.
Those two goals in 53 seconds put Devils on top.
— Cardiff Devils (@cardiffdevils) August 31, 2019
The pressure remained though, with another player still in the box, the Devils made it count. This time a strike from Gleason Fournier from the point, tipped in by Mike McNamee, put the hosts ahead with a 2-1 lead after 32-04.
Those two goals in 53 seconds put Devils on top and they continued to press. Linglet ripped a third goal for Cardiff from the left five minutes into the period, leaving Mountfield 3-1 down.
The visitors were given an opportunity of their own with a five on three power play midway through the third period, but with some crucial blocked shots from Devils the home team kept Mountfield out.
Mountfield grabbed their second goal with two seconds left in the game, but it was too little and too late as Cardiff earned the exact start they wanted, securing all three points on home ice in their opening competitive game of the season.
Next up for the Cardiff Devils is Austrian side Graz 99ers who will be in Cardiff on Sunday to face the Devils at 4:00pm at Viola Arena.
Tickets for Devils CHL match against Graz 99ers on Sunday can be purchased through the Devils website cardiffdevils.com or by calling 0800 0842 666.
What a game from the guys!
Felt right to do one final wave seeing as Granny B got mad at me when I told her I wasn't doing it anymore.
— Ben Bowns (@bownsy21) August 31, 2019
Shots on goal: Devils 25, Mountfield 34.
Shots efficiency: Devils 12%, Mountfield 6%
Penalties in minutes: Devils 14, Mountfield 16
Powerplays: Devils 8, Mountfield 7
Powerplay efficiency: Devils 25%, Mountfield 14%
Penalty kill efficiency: Devils 88%, Mountfield 75%
Save per centre: Devils (Bowns) 94%, Mountfield 88%
Shots blocked: Devils 4, Mountfield 13.
Referees: Marian Rohatsch and Dean Smith
The other teams in Devils group, Frolunda Indians and Graz 99ers, played with the Austrians emerging 5-4 winners after overtime and penalties
Reigning CHL champions Frolunda went down in their opening fixture with Dwight King (9-38), Sebastian Collberg (15-03), Matthew Garbowsky (32-49) and Dominik Grafenthin (34-07, 49-09) scoring.
Theodor Lennström (0-27), Samuel Fagemo (1-02), Simon Hjalmarsson (23-13) and Ryan Lasch (53-45) replied for Indians.
Frölunda have been a dominant force in CHL, entering their sixth season as reigning champions once again after lifting the trophy for the third time at the end of 2018-19.
Swedish winger Max Friburg, a former Anaheim Ducks NHL player, is in his third season with Frolunda and said: “We started good, but then we lost it.
“We need to create chances through our forecheck and attacking, but we played too hard.
“Graz are a good team, took advantage of our mistakes and had a lot of turnovers.
“We need to learn from our mistakes and play better against Mountfield on Sunday.”
Belfast Giants opened their CHL campaign with a 5-4 home win against Bili Tygri Liberec at the SSE Arena.
Bobby Farnham (2-00), Patryk Wronka (11-26), Brian Ward (23-29, 44-31) and Curtis Hamilton (39-40) were their scorers.
Giants now play Augsburger Panther of Germany on Saturday (7.30pm).
Cardiff Devils pre-season and Champions League results/schedule:
Saturday 10 Cardiff Devils 5 Fehervar 2
Sunday 11: Cardiff Devils 2, Fehervar 4
Saturday 17: Nottingham Panthers 3, Cardiff Devils 2
Sunday 18 Cardiff Devils 2, Nottingham Panthers 0
Sunday 25 Cardiff Devils 2 MAC Budapest 4
Friday 30 Cardiff Devils 3, Mountfield HK 2
Sunday 1 Cardiff Devils v Graz 99ers (Champions Hockey League fixture, Viola Arena, 4pm)
Thursday 5 Mountfield HK v Cardiff Devils (Champions Hockey League fixture, 5pm)
Saturday 7 Graz 99ers v Cardiff Devils (Champions Hockey League fixture, 6.15pm)
Tuesday 8 Frolunda Indians v Devils (Champions Hockey League fixture, 5pm)
Tuesday 15 Devils v Frolunda Indians (Champions Hockey League fixture, Viola Arena, 7.30pm)
Here are some of the most important things fans need to know about the CHL format:
1. Three points for a win
Similar to most domestic leagues in Europe (not Elite League) there are three points for a win in regulation time. If the game goes to overtime, both teams receive a point – and will play sudden-death, or a shootout if necessary, to determine the winners who receive an additional point.
If we need overtime in a game, it’s played 3-on-3 with the first goal scored being the game’s winner.
Shootouts are ‘Best of 5’. If that doesn’t solve things, we reverse the order the teams shoot in and go to ‘sudden death’ where anyone can step up to shoot for the first time, or again from earlier rounds.
4. Top two go through
The top two teams in each group qualify for the last 16. Group winners are seeded against runners-up at a draw in October.
5. Every point counts for the team AND their country
It’s not just themselves teams are playing for. Rankings decide how many places each league earns next season. Leagues are ranked based on the average number of points per game. So in the cases of Sweden and Switzerland, this means ‘How many points did their five teams manage on average?’