Belfast Giants 0, Cardiff Devils 1
Captain Joey Martin scored for Cardiff Devils in their hard-fought Challenge Cup quarter-final first leg win against Belfast Giants at the SSE Arena.
Martin’s men produced an outstanding team performance and powered to a fifth successive win in Elite League and cup.
Netminder Ben Bowns stopped 38 shots for a shut-out, while big defenceman Mark Louis went toe-to-toe with former San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames winger Matt Pellech inside the first eight minutes.
Both men are 6ft 4ins tall and it was an evenly matched fight with both men getting in big punches and earning five minute penalties.
Defeat on home ice was a bitter blow for Giants with the second leg to be played in Cardiff Bay next Wednesday (7.30pm).
Devils set off on their recent winning run following a terrible weekend when Belfast won back-to-back matches at the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay, 4-3 and 4-1.
“Now we have to do again what we did last time we were in Cardiff’s building,” said Giants’ coach Adam Keefe. “We can take confidence from the first leg because the team played well. We have to go and produce another effort like that.
“If we do that we’ll get a few more looks and hopefully this time we can put the puck in their net.
“Devils are an extremely good team, while ‘Bownsy’ stood tall and turned away 38 shots.”
Giants’ forward Jordan Smotherman hit the bar – a video review showed the puck did not cross the line – while Martin was denied his second goal by a remarkable Shane Owen save.
— Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) December 11, 2019
These rivals have been the most successful Challenge Cup teams over the last five years. Both have lifted the trophy twice and Belfast are reigning cup holders.
Glasgow Clan are already through to the cup semi-finals, while Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers both lead convincingly after their quarter-finals first leg games against Manchester Storm and Guildford Flames respectively.
A goal by captain Joey Martin midway through the first period gave Devils their 1-0 victory during a match in which both teams looked tense.
Devils had the only powerplay of the opening 20 minutes with Brian Ward off for hooking, but they didn’t convert
Just after Ward returned to the ice, Mike McNamee touched the puck over to Martin just inside the Giants zone and he rifled a shot over the shoulder of goalie Shane Owen to score (14-25).
— Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) December 12, 2019
Devils were shorthanded three times in the middle period, but Cardiff’s penalty killers, along with the outstanding Bowns kept the home team out.
Giants have failed to score in their last two home games, having been beaten 4-0 by Sheffield Steelers last weekend.
Belfast almost fluked a late equaliser when David Goodwin’s shot rebounded off the backboards and hit Bowns’ back. Devils were relieved to clear the danger.
Martin almost scored a second goal when he skated clear and seemed to fool goaltender Owen, but he threw himself to make an outrageous save from what had looked an impossible situation for the Canadian.
Giants v Devils, match stats:
Scorer, Giants: none.
Devils: Joey Martin 1+0
Period scores (Giants first) 0-1; 0-0 (0-1); 0-0 (0-1)
Shots on goal: Giants 38 (on Ben Bowns), Devils (on Shane Owen) 23
Penalties in minutes: Giants 7+0+6=13; Devils 5+6+6=17
Face-offs won: Giants 29, Devils 24
Cardiff Devils team:
Goalies: Ben Bowns (back-up Thomas Murdy)
First line: Gleason Fournier, Mark Richardson, Sean Bentivoglio, Joey Martin, Blair Riley
Second line: Sam Jardine, Shaone Morrisonn, Joey Haddad, Stephen Dixon, Josh Batch
Third line: Mark Louis, Sean McMonagle, Sam Duggan, Matthew Myers, Matt Pope
Fourth line: Charles Linglet, Mike McNamee, Bryce Reddick
Referees: Andy Dalton, Blake Copeland
Match tickets at the Viola Arena CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS or call 0800 0842 666
Devils fixtures during December (Elite League unless stated)
Saturday 14 Cardiff Devils v Nottingham Panthers (7pm)
Wednesday 18 Cardiff Devils v Belfast Giants (7.30pm, Challenge Cup quarter-final, second leg)
Saturday 21 Belfast Giants v Cardiff Devils (7pm)
Sunday 22 Cardiff Devils v Manchester Storm (6pm)
Thursday 26 (Boxing Day) Guildford Flames v Cardiff Devils (4pm)
Saturday 28 Cardiff Devils v Guildford Flames (7pm)
Tuesday 31 Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils (4.30pm)
Wednesday 1 (New Year’s Day) Cardiff Devils v Coventry Blaze (4pm)
Other Challenge Cup quarter-final ties:
Sheffield Steelers 5, Manchester Storm 2
Quarter-final first leg
Steelers start with a three-goal lead in Manchester when the second leg is played next Wednesday.
Scott Simmonds (15-10) put Storm ahead, while Michael Davies made it 1-1 (19-14).
Marc-Olivier Vallerand put the Steelers ahead two minutes 10 seconds into period two, while Davies just over 12 minutes later.
Simmonds netted his second goal for Storm (35-01) and at 3-2 it was a match in the balance.
Welshman Jonathan Phillips (37-55) and Tanner Eberle (55-57) completed the scoring.
Glasgow Clan 4, Dundee Stars 1
Second leg: Clan win 5-2 on aggregate
Glasgow Clan will make a third successive Challenge Cup semi-final appearance after winning 5-2 against Stars on aggregate.
Glasgow’s Jordan Heywood (4-11) and Dundee’s Craig Gans (10-37) both scored and the teams were level until halfway through the 60 minutes.
Linden Springer (34-25), Mathieu Roy (36-30) and Matthew Haywood (55-11) completed the Sheffield tally.
Nottingham Panthers 5, Guildford Flames 1
Quarter-final first leg
Samuel Herr (9-11, powerplay), Brett Bulmer (11-24, shorthanded), Herr (14-31), Brett Perlini (24-36) and Jon Rheault (43-00, powerplay) scored foir Nottingham.
Ian Watters replied for Flames (23-40), but they face a major test in the second leg.