Vaxjo Lakers 3, Cardiff Devils 2
Captain Jake Morissette and his Cardiff Devils team ended their 2017-18 European experience with character and fighting spirit in Sweden.
Reigning Swedish champions Vaxjo Lakers vowed to take revenge on Devils they suffered a painful 5-1 Champions Hockey League defeat in Cardiff Bay.
Lakers emerged winners at the Vida Arena, but Devils players flew home having made their hosts work hard for victory.
Eric Martinsson (54 seconds), Daniel Rahimi (3-50) and Brendan Shinnimin (20-26) scored for Lakers, while Josh Batch (5-37) and Matt Pope (38-29) were on target for Devils.
Netminder Ben Bowns made a series of quality saves, while Sean Bentivoglio went close to a third Cardiff goal when he hit the pipes.
Devils had some late opportunities on the powerplay, but couldn’t find that killer final pass to set up the scoring chance. Good late forechecking from Lakers prevented Devils getting Bowns off for the extra attacker and the hosts held on for the 3-2 to top the group.
Lakers outshot Devils 15-4 in the first period and 17-7 in the second, while the final 20 minutes was more evenly balanced. The hosts had 11 shots to Cardiff’s seven (43-18 in total).
Cardiff players forechecked aggressively in their bid to fight back, while they fought hard to the end of a tough match.
Patrick Asselin missed the match with an injury, but Paul Crowder played after completing his three-match domestic suspension.
In the other group match HC Davos won 3-1 against Czech champions Bili Tygri Liberec, leaving Devils in fourth place in their group.
Devils now play Guildford Flames in a Challenge Cup match at Ice Arena Wales on Saturday (7pm) before travelling to face Coventry Blaze on Sunday (5.15pm).
Scorers, Lakers: Eric Martinsson 1+0, Daniel Rahimi 1+0, Brendan Shinnimin 1+0, Toumas Kiiskinen 0+1, Andrew Calof 0+2, Joel Persson 0+2, Elias Pettersson 0+1.
Devils: Josh Batch 1+0, Matt Pope 1+0, Mark Louis 0+1, Joey Haddad 0+1, Gleason Fournier 0+1.
Shots on goal: Lakers (on Bowns) 15+17+11=43; Devils (on Andren) 4+7+7=18.
Period scores (Devils first): 2-1; 1-1 (3-2); 0-0 (3-2).
Teams who have qualified for the last 32 of the CHL.
Group A: Tappara Tampere, Red Bull Salzburg
Group B: Malmö Redhawks, Kometa Brno
Group C: EV Zug, JYP Jyväskylä,
Group D: Adler Mannheim, Oceláři Třinec
Group E: Växjö Lakers, Bílí Tygři Liberec
Group F: Nottingham Panthers, SC Bern
Group G: Red Bull Munich, Brynäs IF
Group H: Frölunda Indians, ZSC Lions Zurich
The play-off draw takes place on Friday, October 13.