Cardiff Devils 3, Manchester Storm 2
Emotional Cardiff Devils clawed their way to victory against Manchester Storm, scoring two final period goals to take the points.
Elite League title-chasing Devils remain second, two points behind leaders Sheffield Steelers with four games in hand, and have three fixtures left before the new year.
Stephen Dixon, captain Joey Martin and Sam Duggan, with the winner, scored for Devils as took their League points tally to 11 from the last 12 available.
“There is a lot of belief in our locker room,” said Cardiff coach Andrew Lord. “Our first period performance was atrocious from all our parts, myself included. Emotionally we were not there.
“There have been many intense, emotional moments lately, including during our 4-2 win in Belfast on Saturday.
“We just weren’t there from the start. We were trying to be, we really were. It’s not like anybody checked out.
“It was flat to start with, but give Manchester credit. They played hard, are difficult to play against and their goalie (Matt Ginn) was great.
“I liked our kickback during the first 12 minutes of the second period. That was great, but Storm’s goalie stood on his head and there were no goals.
“We took over in third and got back to how we play and scored big goals.It was a huge win.”
Martin struck a vital blow for Devils when he tied the game at 2-2 after 50 minutes 11 seconds. He was given too much room on the powerplay and skated in to beat Ginn from close range.
Less than three minutes later Duggan tipped Gleason Fournier’s shot to put the Devils ahead (53-01) for the winner.
Former Devils captain Ryan Finnerty is Storm’s coach and he said: “We played a good road game, defended well and kept Devils to the outside.
“We didn’t give up a whole lot, but when we did our goalie made some big saves.
“It’s been a challenging year and right now we are trying to claw our way back into a play-off spot. We are rarely outworked and will keep battling.”
Ginn made 41 saves as Devils put him under pressure, firing in 18 shots during each of the second and third periods.
Stephen Dixon scored after only 44 seconds to give Devils an early lead, but it would be almost 50 minutes before they could find the net again.
By then Storm were leading 2-1. Scott Simmonds’ shot snuck through Ben Bowns’ five-hole at 7-29 to tie the game before Cameron Critchlow’s powerplay deflection put the Storm ahead at 12-41.
— EIHL (@officialEIHL) December 22, 2019
Cardiff were unable to find a way past Ginn for the entire middle period, but eventually broke Storm’s resistance midway through the third when Martin scored his powerplay goal.
Then came Duggan’s magic moment when he scored the game winner.
Next up for Cardiff is a trip to play Guildford Flames on Boxing Day followed by a home game against Flames on Saturday, December 28.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS or call 0800 0842 666
Scorers, Devils: Stephen Dixon 1+0, Joey Martin 1+0, Sam Duggan 1+0, Charles Linglet 0+1, Joey Haddad 0+1, Matt Pope 0+1, Mike McNamee 0+1, Gleason Fournier 0+1, Matthew Myers 0+1
Storm: Scott Simmonds 1+0, Cameron Critchlow 1+0, Jared Aulin 0+1, Raymond Grewal 0+1, Dallas Erhardt 0+1, Layne Ulmer 0+1,
Period scores (Devils first): 1-2; 0-0 (1-2); 2-0 (3-2)
Shots on goal: Devils (on Ginn) 8+18+18=44; Storm (on Bowns) 10+6+13=29
Face-offs won: Devils 32, Storm 22
Penalties in minutes: Devils 6+2+0=8; Storm 4+4+2=10
Referees: Tom Darnell, Dean Smith
Not sure I’ve ever seen a game like that. Amazing work rate @cardiffdevils and way to stick with it. Great 4 point weekend. Merry Christmas to all!!!
— Steve King (@Tacosteve10) December 22, 2019
Goalies: Ben Bowns (back-up Thomas Murdy)
First line: Gleason Fournier, Mark Richardson, Sean Bentivoglio, Joey Martin, Blair Riley
Second line: Mark Louis, Sean McMonagle, Charles Linglet, Stephen Dixon, Joey Haddad
Third line: Sam Jardine, Shaone Morrisonn, Masi Marjamaki, Mike McNamee, Matt Pope
Fourth line: Josh Batch, Matthew Myers, Sam Duggan
Sunday EIHL results: Glasgow Clan 1, Sheffield Steelers 5; Dundee Stars 2, Nottingham Panthers 3; Coventry Blaze 8, Guildford Flames 3; Cardiff Devils 3, Manchester Storm 2; Fife Flyers 1, Belfast Giants 3.
Elite League standings