Devils forward Blair Riley in action against his former team, Belfast Giants. Pic: Helen Brabon.

Devils’ Ferocity, Fight, Fightback, But Cardiff Edged Out

Cardiff Devils 3, Belfast Giants 4

After overtime

Captain Joey Martin and his Devils stunned Belfast Giants with the ferocity of their comeback from three goals down in this crucial Elite League match at their Viola Arena rink.

Gleason Fournier and former Giants player Blair Riley scored two goals in 12 seconds before Charles Linglet netted to force the game into overtime.

That gave both teams a point apiece and, while Giants snatched a sudden death overtime winner on a breakaway, Devils will take a lot of confidence from the way they fought back.

Cardiff are now two points behind leaders Glasgow Clan with two games in hand and one point ahead of Belfast going into this afternoon’s second clash between the rivals, also at Viola Arena (4pm face-off).

I read one social media post by a Devils fan slamming the effort from Cardiff and calling the team ‘gutless’. What a load of tosh.

It didn’t take long for that post to be taken off twitter. Quite right too.

Devils are not playing at their consistent best, but the effort and passion they put into this match was magnificent.

The fourth line, comprising Matthew Myers, Sam Duggan and Josh Batch, laid the foundation for what was a gutsy team display, full of character and spirit.

“Our fightback in the third period was huge and showed a lot about the veteran leadership we have in this team,” said Devils assistant coach Luke Piggott.

“We are aware now of the way we need to play to beat this team and make the most of lessons learned.”

The atmosphere at Cardiff’s Viola Arena was awesome from the start with the block 13 standing area making enough noise to spark up all Devils fans. 

Those three Giants goals rocked home supporters, but the style of Devils comeback left the visitors hanging on before the puck broke their way during 3v3 overtime and Bobby Farnham fired the winner three minutes, five seconds into overtime.

Devils had Masi Marjamaki thrown out on a five plus game for slew-footing after seven minutes 46 seconds – and that handed Giants a five minute power play.

Cardiff, already a goal down, restricted the damage and conceded only one goal. 

Belfast scored three PP goals and Piggott said after Devils picked up 35 minutes in penalties: “We took a few ill-judged penalties and they really hurt us.

“Giants’ special teams are dangerous and our PK could have been better. 

“It was important to get back to basics and try to counter their aggressive forecheck. Our third period was a lot better. Unfortunately it did not go for us in overtime.”

“We handled the situation well and to come out with the overtime win was a huge confidence boost that we can take forward,” said Belfast assistant coach Jeff Mason.

“We caused Devils a lot of problems in the first 50 minutes. Three powerplay goals is a big boost to our team.”

It was a fiercely contested, hard-hitting match on Saturday and now the teams do it all again. Playing back-to-back matches between two teams ensures the second fixture will be an emotional, physical clash.

Other Sunday fixtures: 

5.30pm Coventry Blaze v Sheffield Steelers

Sheffield’s overtime win against Nottingham moved them back up to second and with Glasgow not playing on Sunday, Steelers could end the weekend back on top.

“Our main focus has to be cleaning up in our own zone,” said Blaze coach Danny Stewart after their 7-3 defeat in Dundee. 

“We did some positive things in Dundee, but overall it wasn’t a good night.”

5.30pm Manchester Storm v Nottingham Panthers

Manchester Storm earned an excellent shootout win in Fife to move on to 13 points which, although they are still last, keeps them only three points from breaking into the play-off places.

Nottingham lost in Sheffield after overtime, but that point kept them seventh and ahead of Guildford in what’s becoming a very congested middle of the table. 

“We have three road wins in a row and that’s something that has been an Achilles heel for us previously,” said Storm coach Ryan Finnerty. “It’s something we need to take into our own barn against Nottingham.” 

6pm Guildford Flames v Fife Flyers

Flames and Flyers travel down from Scotland for their clash in Surrey. Guildford will be full of confidence after their win against league leaders Glasgow, while Flyers went down against Manchester in Kirkcaldy.

Tickets for Sunday’s Devils v Giants match in Cardiff Bay (4pm): CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS or call 0800 0842 666

Gleason Fournier celebrates. Pic: Rebecca Brain.

Devils v Giants match stats:

Scorers, Devils: Gleason Fournier 1+1, Blair Riley 1+0, Charles Linglet 1+1, Matt Pope 0+1, Sean Bentivoglio 0+1, Mike McNamee 0+1, Sean McMonagle 0+1.

Giants: Brian Ward 1+-0, Jordan Smotherman 1+1, Mark Garside 1+0, Bobby Farnham 1+0, Ryan Lowney 0+1, Ben Lake 0+1, Patrick Mullen 0+2, David Goodwin 0+1, Lewis Hook 0+1, Ciaron Long 0+1

Period scores (Devils first): 0-2; 0-1 (0-3); 3-0 (3-3); 0-1 (3-4)

Penalties in minutes: Devils 27+2+6=35; Giants 2+0+4=6

Powerplays: Devils 2, Giants 5

Face-offs won: Devils 27, Giants 19

Shots on goal: Devils (on Stephen Murphy) 15, Giants (on Ben Bowns) 36

Cardiff Devils team: 

Goalies: Ben Bowns (back-up Thomas Murdy)

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

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

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

Fourth line: Josh Batch, Matthew Myers, Sam Duggan

Referees: Stefan Hogarth, Blake Copeland 

Attendance: 3,100

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