Devils Struggles In Challenge Cup Continue With Latest Coventry Defeat

By Matthew Burgess

Cardiff Devils’ troubles in the Challenge Cup continued after they suffered a 5-3 (EN) defeat on the road to Coventry Blaze.

Backup goalie Jordan Hedley inspired Blaze to victory after coming on in relief for injured starter Paavo Holsa, before going on to make 32 saves.

His introduction initially lifted the Devils, who tied the game when Jake Coughler’s shot found its way in through Hedley, just moments after the young British netminder had come on.

However, Hedley quickly composed himself and grew in influence as Blaze responded with three unanswered goals in the second period to leave the Devils rooted firmly to the bottom of Group B with a concerning four defeats from four games.

Two goals inside three minutes from Brodie Reid and Mark Richardson in the final period briefly cut Coventry’s lead to a single goal to raise hopes of a thrilling comeback.

But Jack Billings’ late empty-net goal deservedly secured Blaze the points to raise the prospect of the Devils being eliminated from the Challenge Cup group stage.

Hedley became increasingly dominant in the Coventry net as the game wore on, backstopping the hosts with 17 saves in the final period alone.

Coming off a disappointing defeat to Guildford Flames in the same competition, Devils coach Brodie Dupont reshuffled the line-up, with Joey Martin moving onto a line with Trevor Cox and Cole Sanford, while Josh Waller featured on the fourth-line as he returned from injury.

And whilst there were bursts of solid offensive production from the Devils, Dupont will be alarmed that all four Coventry goals were avoidable from a defensive perspective.

Colton Yellow Horn put Blaze found space in Ben Bowns’ goal to squeeze a shot in from behind the goal line to give his side the advantage.

Coventry are yet to lose a game in regulation time in either the league or cup in regulation time, and their spirited approach, coupled with the Devils’ defensive lapses, bode them well as they restored their lead in a commanding second period.

Cardiff fell behind for the second time after they were undone on a 3-on-2 counter attack. Kim Tallberg’s shot was initially saved, but Radek Veseley was alert to crash the crease and pounce on the loose puck.

The Devils’ defence were again found wanting when Peton Frantti was left wide open to snipe from close range.

And things failed to improve when Marly Quince was allowed to skate in at Bowns and apply a neat forehand-backhand finish to add a fourth.

Reid notched his third goal in three games as he and Richardson (Martin, Crawford) each beat Hedley with two scrappy rebound goals as the Devils began to dictate but it was too little, too late with Billings consigning Cardiff to yet another defeat.

Box score: 1-1, 3-0, 1-2
SOG: 27-38
Power play: 0/4, 0/4

Jake Coughler 1G
Brodie Reid 1G, -4
Mark Richardson 1G
Marcus Crawford 1A, 9 shots
Ryan Penny FO 70% (7/3)
Justin Crandall -3
Ben Bowns 22 saves

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