Sudden Death Drama Leads To Elite Devils Defeat

Belfast Giants 2, Cardiff Devils 1

after sudden death overtime

Canadian defenceman Curtis Leonard inflicted a damaging blow to Cardiff Devils’ Elite League title hopes with a dramatic overtime winner at the SSE Arena.

Referees Tom Darnell and Tom Pering took an age studying video replays before deciding the goal should stand, so long it began to look as though they were doubtful the puck had crossed the line.

In the end, though, they awarded the goal and Giants’ completed a four-point weekend which lifted them top of the table.

Devils earned one point because the goals are level at 60 minutes and the title rivals are level on points and have completed fixtures against each other.

Cardiff, who have a game in hand, are at home against Glasgow Clan on Wednesday, while Belfast make the trip to Fife Flyers.

“We haven’t seen a review that long before,” said Devils coach Andrew Lord. “That was frustrating, but it was a good goal. I believe that having seen it from one angle.”

Leonard touched the puck towards the Devils goal and goalie Ben Bowns flicked out a glove. He succeeded only in nudging the puck slowly towards the line.

Gleason Fournier stopped it with his stick and at first glance it seemed he had done enough to stop Giants scoring. An official behind the net immediately waived off the effort, signalling the puck had not crossed the line, but when play stopped soon after the referees reviewed the play.

More than 7,000 spectators were at the arena, including 600-plus from Cardiff, and the locals celebrated wildly when the goal was given.

It was a major blow for Cardiff, who had Evan Mosey and Sean Bentivoglio back in their line-up. Mosey returned to the ice after sitting out a number of matches following a blow to the head and Bentivoglio was back after completing a two-game suspension.

Joey Haddad, who has recently returned after injury, was the import rested.

“I am extremely happy,” said Belfast coach Adam Keefe. “The character my players in a high stress environment was excellent. I am proud, excited and happy for every player.”

Goalie Tyler Beskorowany was man of the match, making a series of magnificent saves to deny Devils.

“He was immense over the whole weekend,” said Keefe. “He knows what it takes, Tyler is the reason we were victorious.”

Devils have 12 fixtures left in their quest to be crowned League champions for a third successive season, while Giants have 11.

“It was really tight,” said Devils head coach Andrew Lord. “A really good defensive effort from both teams.

“It was an exciting game which could have gone either way.

“A couple of saves by their goaltender were out of this world.”

Both goalies were on top form through the opening two periods to keep the game goalless as a fast and frantic game became increasingly more nervous.

Devils survived when a Belfast shot struck one post, flew across goal and hit the other post before flying back into play.

The deadlock was finally broken after 46-57 gone when Blair Riley’s bullet slapshot from the blue-line to put the home side ahead.

That lead didn’t last for very long however. 

Great work to turn the puck over in the offensive zone led to Joey Martin wristing his shot into the net and tying the game at 50-56.

Jake Morissette and Josh Batch, who was in front of the net screening Beskorowany and the teams finished the match locked on 1-1.

With the game in overtime, Charles Linglet had arguably Devils’ best chance to win it as he skated clear, but he could not beat Belfast’s netminder.

At 63-22 a loose puck in the Cardiff crease was eventually tapped goalwards by Leonard and, after the lengthy review, the emotional, fiercely contested match was over and Devils were left reflecting on what might have been. 

Home fans at the almost sold out SSE Arena started a frenzy of celebrations. 

Match stats: 

Scorers, Giants: Blair Riley 1+0, Curtis Leonard 1+0, Chris Higgins 0+2, David Rutherford 0+1, Darcy Murphy 0+1.

Devils: Joey Martin 1+0, Jake Morissette 0+1, Josh Batch 0+1.

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

Shots on goal: Giants (on Bowns) 12+13+11+4=40; Devils (on Beskorowany) 8+8+14+5=35.

Penalties in  minutes: Giants 4+0+2=6; Devils 8+0+0=8.

Special teams: Giants PK 2/2, PP 0/3; Devils PK 3/3, PP 0/2.

Referees: Tom Darnell, Tom Pering.

Stars of the game: Giants, Tyler Beskorowany; Devils, Joey Martin.

Attendance: 6,899

Elite League fixtures on Sunday: Coventry Blaze v Fife Flyers (5.15pm), Manchester Storm v Sheffield Steelers

(5.30pm), Guildford Flames v Glasgow Clan (6pm). 

There is ice hockey action at the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay this evening when Cardiff Fire play Solent Devils in the National League this Sunday, February 24 (6pm).

They then entertain Peterborough Phantoms in Cardiff Bay on Saturday, March 2 (6.30pm).

1f39f.png Cardiff Fire match tickets available on the door or buy online at 

Cardiff Devils remaining 14 Elite League fixtures


Wednesday 27 v Glasgow Clan (home, 7.30pm)


Saturday 2 v Coventry Blaze (away, 7pm)

Sunday 3 v Sheffield Steelers (home, 4pm) – this game does not count on season tickets

Thursday 7 v Fife Flyers (away, 7.30pm)

Friday 8 v Guildford Flames (home, 7.30pm)

Saturday 16 v Sheffield Steelers (away, 7pm)

Sunday 17 v Glasgow Clan (home, 6pm)

Wednesday 20 v Glasgow Clan (away, 7.30pm)

Saturday 23 v Manchester Storm (home, 7pm)

Sunday 24 v Dundee Stars (away, 5pm)

Saturday 30 v MK Lightning (home, 7pm)

Sunday 31 v Coventry Blaze (away, 5.15pm)


Belfast Giants 49 36 11 2 74 .755 191 122 623 2-0
Cardiff Devils 48 34 8 6 74 .771 191 128 555 0-2
Glasgow Clan 49 29 16 4 62 .633 179 147 640 0-1
Nottingham Panthers 52 25 18 9 59 .567 159 163 862 1-0
Guildford Flames 50 25 20 5 55 .550 162 153 616 4-0
Sheffield Steelers 51 25 23 3 53 .520 152 174 724 1-0
Fife Flyers 46 23 18 5 51 .554 151 157 653 1-0
Coventry Blaze 47 21 19 7 49 .521 170 184 607 0-1
Dundee Stars 49 18 19 12 48 .490 138 167 455 0-2
Manchester Storm 50 21 24 5 47 .470 145 172 1043 0-1
Milton Keynes Lightning 49 13 32 4 30 .306 120 191 851 1-0

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