Cardiff's Sam Jardine battles for possession in Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Devils On The Charge – Sam And Ben Shine In Belfast

Belfast Giants 2, Cardiff Devils 4

Canadian defenceman Sam Jardine and goalie Ben Bowns played crucial roles in Cardiff Devils’ battling Elite League win against Belfast Giants in Northern Ireland.

Former Toronto Marlies player Jardine scored Cardiff’s third goal of the match at a crucial time when Belfast had momentum and we’re attacking in waves.

Josh Batch helped set up the chance, Matt Pope picked out Jardine with an accurate pass and at 3-1 ahead Devils were back in control.

“Our third goal was huge,” said head coach Andrew Lord. “We win a battle in the corner at a time when Giants had momentum and the whole building was energised.

“That gave us breathing space at a time when we needed it.”

Cardiff Devils celebrating Stephen Dixon’s second period goal. Credit: William Cherry.

Bowns stopped 29 of the 31 shots fired at him including a remarkable glove stop after a defensive error.

Those moments kept Cardiff on course and they earned a third win against Giants in 10 days.

The next test for Cardiff is against Manchester Storm, coached by former Devils captain Ryan Finnerty, at the Viola Arena on Sunday (6pm).

Only a month ago Devils fans were in despair after Belfast came to Cardiff Bay and earned back-to-back League wins which opened up the title chase.

Since then Lord’s men have earned seven wins in eight matches – and even secured one point from the other fixture, a 3-2 overtime defeat against Nottingham.

That haul of 11 League points from a possible 12 plus a 5-0 aggregate Challenge Cup quarter-final win against Belfast has fired up Cardiff’s season at just the right time.

Belfast followed their double delight at the Viola by suffering five defeats in 10 league and cup matches – and they were shutout in four of those.

Lord was delighted with his teams win in Northern Ireland, saying: “They were some really good parts after a slow start after an early powerplay and for the next five minutes or so.

“The rest of our first period was fantastic, we were decent in the second and during the third we kinda hung on. All credit to Belfast because they kept coming, wave after wave.

“I was happy we clawed it out. We made if difficult for ourselves as the game went along, but found a way.”

Belfast coach Adam Keefe included new signings Elgin Pearce, who switched from Dundee to Giants, and Swedish forward Rickard Palmberg for their home debuts and said: “We came out quite well, although it wasn’t ideal to start the game with a penalty against us. We did well to kill it off.

“It was tough to go a goal down, but the guys responded well. It took us a long time to find a way behind Ben Bowns, but I liked our pushback in the third.

“That was the first time this season we have really had a solid pushback. That took great character.

“I’ll take the positives, but it is a frustrating result. 

“Pearce and Palmberg both played well and threatened, which is what we are looking for from them.”

Bowns had a solid night in the Devils net and this was his 15th in league action so far this season. 

There was early drama after nine seconds when Lord called Giants for submitting the wrong starting line-up, which resulted in a bench minor penalty to the home team. 

The lone goal of the opening period was created by some great forechecking resulting in Pope finding Masi Marjamaki in front of the goal and blasted the puck past goalie Shane Owen (9-35). 

Stephen Dixon doubled the lead for the Devils after Charles Linglet stripped a Belfast defender of the puck and chipped it to Dixon, who backhanded the puck top shelf (27-43).

Giants had a big opportunity to get back into the game when the Devils went down two men after Jardine and Joey Haddad were called for slashing 50 seconds apart. Devils penalty kill held them off, despite several great chances to pull a goal back at the end of the second period.

Bobby Farnham’s high shot beat Bowns shortside after 45-47 to give Belfast hope before Devils rocked the home team again three minutes later when Jardine hammered home to make it 3-1.

Curtis Hamilton made it 3-2 after 55-02 to set up an intense final five minutes, but at 59:11, with the goalie pulled, Blair Riley added an empty net goal  against his old club to round off the scoring at 4-2. 

Belfast Giants’ Brian Ward with Cardiff Devils’ Sean Bentivoglio and goalie Ben Bowns at the SSE Arena, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Match stats: 

Scorers, Giants: Bobby Farnham 1+0, Curtis Hamilton 1+0, Curtis Leonard 0+1, Liam Reddox 0+1, Elgin Pearce 0+1

Devils: Masi Marjamaki 1+0, Stephen Dixon 1+0, Sam Jardine 1+1, Blair Riley 1+0, Matt Pope 0+2, Mike McNamee 0+1, Charles Linglet 0+1, Josh Batch 0+1, Shaone Morrisonn 0+1, Joey Haddad 0+1

Period scores (Giants first): 0-1; 0-1 (0-2); 2-2 (2-4)

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

Powerplays: Giants 3, Devils 3

Shots on goal: Giants (on Bowns) 6+11+14=31, Devils (on Owen) 10+5+4=19

Face-offs won: Giants 24, Devils 23

Attendance: 4,288

Referee: Liam Sewell, Blake Copeland

Man of the match: Stephen Dixon

Cardiff Devils team:

Goalies: Ben Bowns (back-up Thomas Murdy)

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

Second line: Sean McMonagle, Mark Louis, Charles Linglet, Stephen Dixon, Joey Haddad

Third line: Sam Jardine, Shaone Morrisonn, Masi Marjamaki, Mike McNamee, Matt Pope

Fourth line: Josh Batch, Matthew Myers, Sam Duggan

Elite League table                      

1  Sheffield Steelers 27 34 15 2 10 0 117 85 0.63
2  Cardiff Devils 23 32 15 0 6 2 84 69 0.70
3  Guildford Flames 23 30 12 3 8 0 69 54 0.65
4  Belfast Giants 25 30 12 2 9 2 77 67 0.60
5  Nottingham Panthers 25 28 12 1 10 2 77 67 0.56
6  Coventry Blaze 25 25 12 0 12 1 89 97 0.50
7  Glasgow Clan 25 25 10 2 12 1 87 96 0.50
8  Fife Flyers 26 24 10 1 13 2 76 86 0.46
9  Manchester Storm 25 21 6 3 13 3 67 84 0.42
10  Dundee Stars 26 15 7 0 18 1 71 109 0.29

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