Peter Russell hailed his Glasgow Clan team after their 4-3 Challenge Cup home defeat against Cardiff Devils in Scotland.
Devils led 3-0 and 4-1, but Clan fought their way back and gave themselves a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
The teams meet in the return leg at Cardiff’s Viola Arena on Friday, December 14 and head coach Russell said: “The second and third periods were two of our best this season. Honestly, man for man.
“The middle 20 was the best we have played. To put a good team like Devils in their own end, not let them change and all the little things that go towards a big team performance was good to see.
“Our passion, our compete level and the way we stayed disciplined were all major factors.
“We had a tough start, but adjusted and I have a feeling we found our identity in this match. We looked an aggressive, forechecking hockey team competing all the way against top opposition.”
This was the first of four matches in eight days for Devils, who travel to Fife Flyers on Saturday, entertain Dundee Stars in Cardiff Bay on Sunday and then take on Guildford Flames at home next Wednesday.
“Mixed emotions,” said Devils coach Andrew Lord after their Cup quarter-final first leg. “It was one heck of a hockey game, entertaining and then some.
“We made a good start and the first 10 minutes were great. Clan came out hard in the second and credit to them for that.
“It was hard fought, like a play-off match, and it was a shame we didn’t capitalise on the late powerplay. That was the only we had.
“Then we gave up a late goal which was disappointing. That’s 60 minutes in the books and we move on.”
Devils were again without forward Sean Bentivoglio and D-man Mark Richardson and they will be assessed again this week.
Stephen Dixon, Charles Linglet, Joey Martin and Matt Pope scored for Cardiff against Clan, while Jory Haddad was man of the match.
Cardiff Devils remaining fixtures in 2018
Saturday 1 v Fife Flyers (away, 7.15pm)
Sunday 2 v Dundee Stars (home, 6pm)
Wednesday 5 v Guildford Flames (home, 7.30pm)
Sunday 9 v Belfast Giants (away, 4pm)
Friday 14 v Glasgow Clan (home, 7.30pm, Challenge Cup)
Saturday 15 v Manchester Storm (away, 7pm)
Thursday 20 v MK Lightning (away, 7.30pm)
Saturday 22 v Dundee Stars (home, 7pm)
Sunday 23 v Guildford Flames (away, 6pm)
Wednesday 26 v Coventry Blaze (away, 6pm)
Thursday 27 v Coventry Blaze (home, 7pm)
Sunday 30 v Guildford Flames (away, 6pm)
Tickets for Devils games are on sale.
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ELITE ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE 2018/19
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