Cardiff Devils head coach Andrew Lord. Pic: Devils.

Decision Time For Devils After Penalty-Filled Battle

Guildford Flames 3, Cardiff Devils 1

Andrew Lord is walking a desperately difficult line. Some fans want violent, physical ice hockey, while he knows the modern style for successful teams is to be fast, skilful and decisive.

The old days of two heavyweights throwing off their gloves and fighting have just about gone.

Devils must make a final decision which way they are going. If they follow the physical route which proved influential a few years ago they are going to be penalised out of games.

“It is extremely frustrating,” said Lord. “Great start, playing great. It was a penalty filled affair. I don’t know where to go from here.

“We went into Guildford’s building, but we are not able to finish hits and play physical any more.

“The fan base are crying out for my head because we need physical hockey. We delivered that against Sheffield and in Guildford, but then it was penalty after penalty.

“They changed the momentum of the match. A highly frustrating night.” 

Lord and his team must find a balance – tough, physical hockey alongside skill, speed and quality. Lord knows it, I know it and many long-term fans know it.

We all love a hockey scrap at the right time – there were fights in both games over the weekend – but ice hockey has developed into a different game. There has never been a time when hockey quality in the UK has been better than this.

Yes, long-term fans will throw SuperLeague at me. Devils were the champions in 1996-97 when almost all players were imports, but that era was unsustainable.

The Superleague dream was too expensive. Two import goalies? Former NHL netminder Frank Caprice and fellow Canadian Derek Herlofsky were both on the roster in 1997-98. Now that is pushing the boat out.

Devils collected 51 minutes in penalties against Guildford. Flames had 15. Those stats made the difference.

Argue all you want about refereeing standards, but those guys are doing their best and when Blair Riley lands a 10-minute penalty for abuse of officials that lets the team down.

Riley also took a 10 minute penalty for fighting instigator and Charles Linglet was also in the penalty box for 10 minutes for abuse of officials.

If the performance of officials is poor it doesn’t help to abuse them. That indiscipline let the team down.

Three Flames goals in the third period, including a late empty netter, earned Guildford success at their Spectrum home. 

“It was a tight played game with two good goaltenders and limited opportunities for anyone to put up any offence,” said Guildford head coach Paul Dixon.  

“It is one of those games where you have to keep trying to press and just hope one finally goes in and that’s what happened. When Cardiff tied it, we were immediately able to convert a turnover into a difference making goal.

“When we had to defend we did that well.”

The first two periods in Guildford were goalless. Flames opened the scoring at 40-22 through Ian Watters. 

Joey Haddad equalised at 47-43 with a goal that was video reviewed for a kicking motion, but the Devils could only stay on level terms for 39 seconds.

TJ Foster netted to make it 2-1 and then Jesse Craige scored into an empty net.

Devils match against Glasgow Clan away on Wednesday evening is being broadcast live on FreeSports, a game the current league leaders against defending play-off champions Cardiff.

Lord takes his team to play Manchester Storm on Saturday, while Fife Flyers visit the Viola Arena on Sunday.

Tickets: CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS or call 0800 0842 666

Guildford v Cardiff:


Flames: TJ Foster 1+0, Ian Watters 1+0, Jesse Craige 1+1, Calle Ackered 0+1, Kruise Reddick 0+1, Ben Davies 0+1, James Crooks 0+1, Jordan Rowley 0+1

Devils: Joey Haddad 1+0, Sean Bentivoglio 0+1, Sean McMonagle 0+1
Penalties in minutes: Flames 4+7+4=15, Devils 4+21+26=51

Period scores (Flames first): 0-0; 0-0 (0-0); 3-1 (3-1)

Referees: Tom Pering, Andrew Miller

Attendance: 1,682

Man of the match: Joey Martin

Devils team:

Goalies: Ben Bowns (back-up Thomas Murdy)

First line: Gleason Fournier, Mark Richardson, Joey Haddad, Joey Martin, Sean Bentivoglio

Second line: Sean McMonagle, Mark Louis, Charles Linglet, Stephen Dixon, Blair Riley

Third line: Sam Jardine, Bryce Reddick, Josh Batch, Matthew Myers, Sam Duggan

Fourth line: Masi Marjamaki, Mike McNamee, Matt Pope

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