Toms Rutkis.

Devils’ Toms Starts Ice Hockey Season In Top Form

Latvian-born Toms Rutkis underlined his potential with an outstanding personal performance for Cardiff Devils in Nottingham.

Rutkis, a 20-year-old forward who plays for Devils on a two-way contract with Swindon Wildcats, started the 2018-19 ice hockey season in sensational form.

He caught the eye during Devils’ open training session last week, while he scored against Panthers in a 5-5 Aladdin Cup draw at the Motorpoint Arena.

Devils and Panthers go head-to-head in the return leg at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay on Sunday (6pm).

Rutkis, Joey Haddad, Bryce Reddick, Jake Morissette and Sean Bentivoglio scored for Devils in Nottingham and the Welsh team led 5-4 going into the final minute.

Matt Pope was Devils’ man of the match, while Thomas Murdy was in goal with Ben Bowns rested.

Layne Ulmer, Joey Martin, Matthew Myers and Bowns missed the match and Devils started with Stephen Dixon, Charles Linglet, Pope, Gleason Fournier and Mark Louis taking the first shift.

Devils had a number to kill off a number of penalties, but didn’t have a powerplay until Panthers had their first player sent to the penalty box after 59-51.

Justin Faryna was hurt when he was hit in the face by a puck and play was delayed because of blood, but the Devils forward was able to travel back to South Wales.

Murdy was in good form for Devils, who went ahead when Haddad scored from a one-timer inside the first four minutes.

Panthers hit back to lead 3-1 with Tom Billingsley (9-07), Luke Pither (13-26) and Justin Kovacs (19-42) scoring.

Rutkis netted unassisted after 24-01 before Pither made it 4-2 on 29-03.

Bryce Reddick (41-32), captain Morissette, after 47-16, and Bentivoglio (49-53) hit back to give Devils a 5-4 lead before Alex Guptill completed the scoring at 5-5 (58-52).

Panthers netminder Michael Garnett had a number of saves to make, while he was relieved when a shot hit the pipes.

Sam Gospel took over from Garnett in goal for Panthers at the start of the third period, while Panthers had a series of power plays without being able to score.

Powerplays continued to come the Panthers way but despite plenty of endeavour they couldn’t get the puck past Murdy in the Devils’ goal.

Head coach Andrew Lord’s Cardiff came through a difficult opening pre-season test and set up a cracking Aladdin Cup second leg clash on Sunday.

Tickets for Sunday’s home game (6pm face-off) are available via or by calling 0800 0842 666.

Cardiff Devils signings for 2018-19 (One more import defenceman to add):

Netminders: Ben Bowns, Thomas Murdy.

Defencemen: Ben Blood (import), Bryce Reddick (import), Mark Louis (import), Gleason Fournier (import), Mark Richardson.

Forwards: Charles Linglet (import) Josh Batch, Stephen Dixon (import), Toms Rutkis, Mike Hedden (import), Layne Ulmer (import), Matthew Myers, Justin Faryna (import), Jake Morissette (import), Sean Bentivoglio (import), Craig Moore, Matt Pope (import), Joey Martin (import), Joey Haddad (import).

Players no longer playing for Devils: Andrew Lord (retired from playing to become full-time head coach), Andrew Hotham (retired), Paul Crowder (to Fife Flyers), Drew Paris (Karlskrona HK, Sweden), Tyson Strachan (retired), Patrick Asselin (retired).

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