Cardiff Devils Storm Into Play-off Finals Weekend

Manchester Storm 1, Cardiff Devils 3

Devils win 6-3 on aggregate

Cardiff Devils are still on course for a Grand Slam at the top level of British ice hockey.

They have qualified for the Elite League play-off finals weekend, beating Manchester Storm home and away.

Dundee Stars, who defeated Braehead Clan 6-1 on aggregate, will be Cardiff’s opponents in the semi-finals.

Sheffield Steelers, who defeated Nottingham Panthers 7-6 after sudden death overtime, play Belfast Giants, who overcame Fife Flyers.

Joey Haddad, Chris Culligan and Gleason Fournier scored in the away leg as Devils outshot their hosts 39-23.

Storm played the English national anthem before carrying on with their announcements, while Devils fans ignored the messages and sang the Welsh anthem with massive enthusiasm.

Devils faced a hostile atmosphere at the Silver Blades Arena in Altrincham with home fans fired up for the second leg and Storm players out to make it a physical confrontation.

Two coach loads of Devils fans plus a number of carloads made the journey to the clash and the teams went head-to-head in a fast and furious opening.

Coach Andrew Lord again left out Denny Kearney, who has been suffering from a minor muscle strain.

Storm went ahead when Darian Dziuryznski fired past goalie Ben Bowns, assisted by Paul Swindlehurst, with eight minutes 21 seconds on the clock.

Devils hit back with three unanswered goals to clinch their place at the finals weekend.

First it was a goal right off a face-off at 11-37, courtesy of Haddad, who backhanded a shot over Mike Clemente after Layne Ulmer pushed the puck forward onto his stick.

Then Culligan was set up by Guillaume Doucet and fired the puck past Clemente to give the Devils the 2-1 lead.

The middle period was dominated by the Devils as they outshot the Storm 13-4.

The only goal of the second period was a beauty as Sean Bentivoglio fed a pass to man of the match Fournier as they crossed into the Manchester zone and he tucked it up over Clemente at 28:07 to give Devils a 3-1 lead.

The third period saw the Devils again shut the door on the Storm.

Despite some good chances at both ends of the ice, Storm could not gain a foothold even when they pulled their netminder for the final three minutes of the game.

Match stats:

Scorers, Storm: Darian Dziuryznski 1+0, Paul Swindlehurst 0+1, Dallas Erhardt 0+1.

Devils: Joey Haddad 1+0, Chris Culligan 1+0, Gleason Fournier 1+1, Layne Ulmer 0+1, Andrew Lord 0+1, Sean Bentivoglio 0+1, Guillaume Doucet 0+1.

Period scores (Storm first): 1-2; 0-1 (1-3); 0-0 (1-3).

Penalties in minutes: Storm 2+2+0=4; Devils 4+0+2=6.

Powerplays: Storm 0/3; Devils 0/2.

Shots on goal: Storm 10+4+9=23; Devils 12+13+13=39.

Referees: Tom Perin and Stefan Hogarth.

Stars of the game: Storm, Paul Swindlehurst; Devils, Gleason Fournier.

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