The Clock Is Ticking On Devils Challenge Cup Campaign

By Matthew Burgess

The season might only be in its infancy, but the Coventry Blaze are proving to be a thorn in the side for the inconsistent Cardiff Devils.

The Devils have played three games in the Elite League and maintain a perfect record, but have lost each of their four games in the Challenge Cup, with Blaze keenly contributing to their stuttering form.

The teams meet for the second time in three nights this evening with the Devils smarting from Thursday’s 5-3 defeat.

Back-up goaltender Jordan Hedley enjoyed a dominant display for Coventry but the Devils were the architects of their own downfall through a series of defensive lapses during 5-on-5 play which Blaze gladly took advantage of.

The Group B standings do not paint a pretty picture for Cardiff at the halfway point of the group stage, who prop up both Blaze (five points) and Guildford Flames (six points).

Yet, the Challenge Cup’s bloated format means all is not lost, with only two of the 10 clubs facing elimination from the group stage round. And with four games remaining, the Devils can still propel themselves into the next round.

However, if they are to progress, Cardiff must start taking points off Coventry and Guildford. That will only come if the Devils quickly find ways to iron out mistakes on the back-end, whilst getting more chemistry and consistency from their offensive lines which are packed with talented forwards.

Goalie uncertainty
There is uncertainty around both team’s starting goalies going into tonight’s game. Coventry starter Paavo Holsa is unconfirmed with a suspected groin injury meaning Hedley could make his first start of the season for Blaze, following his 32-save performance against the Devils midweek.

For the Devils, Brodie Dupont could decide to give Taran Kozun his third start of the season. Kozun is 0-2 this season but with the Devils playing three games in four days, the Canadian may well come in to ease the burden on Ben Bowns.

Where’s Waller?
Dupont reshuffled the lineup again on Thursday night, separating the CCS line with Joey Martin centering Cole Sanford and Trevor Cox. In addition, Riley Brandt was pushed up to the third line which meant Josh Waller (one assist in six games) returned from injury on the fourth line. Waller clearly has a big role to play on the team but having already played on three different lines this season, Dupont doesn’t appear to have found the ideal role for the speedy 23-year-old just yet.

Tickets for all forthcoming Cardiff Devils games are available via the team’s official site.

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