Both reports written by Julian Blackburn
Wales football captain Williams at IAW to cheer the Devils on
It’s been quite a week for Welsh sport, with the Welsh rugby team kicking their Autumn series off with defeat to the Aussies, and the Welsh football team going down in a friendly on Friday night to some people’s tip to lift the world cup next year, France. Unfortunately, Wales will not be in Russia, so Friday night’s game was just a friendly as was Tuesday night’s clash against Panama.
On Sunday night, Wales Captain Ashley Williams took some time off to watch the Cardiff Devils entertain the Edinburgh Capitals. Williams was joined at IAW by Neil Taylor, James Chester and Joe Allen. The latter appeared at the beginning of the second period sporting a Devils hoody.
The Welsh players chose a good time to attend a Devils game as they were in search of their sixth win in a row, having made it five wins against the Belfast Giants on a road trip the night before.
Saturday’s game in Belfast ended with a three-nil victory and a shutout for the man of the match Ben Bowns. He faced 36 shots on the night and this victory may finally show that the Devils are finally finding their form, and the new players are finally settling in and showing the form, that Head Coach Andrew Lord was obviously looking for when he signed them. One of those new players Justin Faryna opened the scoring after 7 minutes and 49 seconds. The Devils enjoyed the majority of the play in the opening period but were unable to add to their goal tally, mainly due to an outstanding display by Belfast netminder Whistle. He had faced 17 Devils shots by the end of the period.
In the second period, it was the turn of Devils netminder to produce a masterclass, stopping all 18 shots he faced during a Giants onslaught. The second period ended without any score.
In the third, the Giants had their chances, but it was the Devils who scored with Gleason Fournier scoring a shorthanded goal after 45 minutes and 46 seconds. With over 2 minutes of the game left, Belfast took the gamble to pull their netty for the extra skater but this backfired when Joey Martin scored the empty-netter at 57 minutes and 45 seconds. This was the Giants first home defeat in the Elite league this year and it sounded out a warning to all the sides currently sitting above the Devils in the league that they are coming…
Back to IAW on Sunday night and buoyed by their recent form, there weren’t many home fans who expected anything other than a comfortable Devils victory. For the second night running Joey Haddad was joined by Mark Louis in sitting the game out. Joey Haddad is still recovering from injury. They were both joined by Craig Moore who also missed out. Despite the players not icing for the Devils, they had more than enough firepower to win this one comfortably.
From the off the Caps struggled to clear their defensive zone and to be honest the surprise was that it took so long, (just over 8 minutes) for the Devils to score their first goal. Layne Ulmer tapping in. Just three minutes later and current form player Justin Faryna doubled the Devils lead. The Devils continued to dominate the period, but it ended with the score at 2-0.
Right at the beginning of the second, the home side made a very sloppy line change which allowed Mike Cazzola to find Marek Tvrdon with a straightforward length of the ice pass which put him straight in on Thomas “ Mad Dog “ Murdy’s goal and he popped the puck through the goalie’s legs. This gave the committed few Caps fans who made the long trip from Edinburgh hope, although it was to be short-lived. The Devils switched back on and restored the two-goal lead almost immediately with Faryna scoring his second of the night. Asselin and captain Jake Morrissette score in a five-minute period to make the score 5-1 at the second interval.
The game as a contest was pretty much all over and the Devils continued to dominate in the third but didn’t add to their goals until the 48th minute when Joey Martin scored. Josh Batch scored a terrific wrist shot after 54 minutes and the Caps Tvrdon scored his second and a Caps consolation goal right at the end.
I’m sure Ashley Williams and the other Welsh players would have been suitably impressed with the Devils performance and if this was their first taste of Ice Hockey then I’m sure they will be back sometime soon.
The Cardiff Devils are back in action on Wednesday night with a road trip to Dundee and will be looking to make it victories over three Scottish sides in a row when the entertain Fife on Saturday at IAW.
Cardiff Fire 2 the best team for 2 periods
Whilst the Devils were in Belfast notching up win number five in a row the Cardiff Fire 2 side were in action at IAW against Bracknell Hornets. This game was expected to be a major test for Fire 2 with the Hornets electing to drop a division after playing in NIHL 1 last year. With Fire 1 having no fixtures, three of their regulars, Elis Sheppard, Sam Bryant and Jackson Price iced for the NIHL 2 side.
The first period was very competitive, and the Fire got off to the perfect start with assistant captain Robert Sedlak opening the scoring inside 3 minutes. They held this lead for the majority of the first, but they conceded after 15 minutes. This Fire side has many youngsters in it but with older and experienced players like Deacon, Armour, Wilkinson and Sedlak coupled with the Fire 1 players, they looked to be right up for this and bounced straight back scoring their second goal of the night after 17 minutes and 21 seconds. The goal went to Rhys James Harding with Deacon and Wilkinson getting assists. The Fire deserved their interval lead as they were the better side during the opening exchanges.
The Fire continued to dominate in the second period and extended their lead just 1 minute 36 seconds into the period with Michael Hutchings scoring. This third goal seemed to really frustrate the visitors and several incidents occurred whereby Bracknell players seemed to be intent on drawing Fire players into taking penalties. The away side clawed a goal back after 36 minutes. The Fire kept their heads and took their 3-2 lead into the break at the end of the second.
Most Fire fans including myself felt that this was going to be a well-deserved victory after 40 excellent minutes of Hockey.
No one at IAW, including the Hornets bench, could have envisaged what happened next. Firstly, Jackson Price took what seemed a very dubious hooking call and from the resulting power play, the away side made it 3-3. Then minutes later Ross Wilkinson got called for “delay of game” and although the Fire survived the powerplay the pressure was really being exerted by the more experienced side.
The game was turned on its head within a 34 second period. It sounds incredible and it was. Firstly, not long after Wilkinson exited the penalty box, Bracknell took the lead (47:22), then at 47:33 Wilkinson put a massive hit on a Bracknell player and in the aftermath dropped the gloves with Harvey Hind-Pitcher. After a long break in play where the officials deliberated their calls, Wilko got called 2 minutes for boarding and 2+2 for fighting, Hind-Pitcher got called 2 for inciting and 2+2 for fighting. Although no power play ensued it only took 8 seconds for Bracknell to take advantage of the fact that the home side had lost one of their key defencemen. They took a two-goal lead on 47:41 and then bagged another at 47:56. The Fire was left shell shocked, lots of shaking heads and shouting followed from the Fire bench. How had this happened?
By the time Wilkinson got back on the ice the away side had scored another goal to make it 7-3 and although the Fire replied almost immediately to make it 7-4 and then scored another with a little over five minutes left to make it a two-goal game. The icing on the cake came for Bracknell with them adding a further 2 goals in the last 5 minutes. The final score an incredible 9-5 victory for the away side. I’m sure as the Hornets travelled home they still couldn’t believe the 34 second turn around. As for this young Fire side, they will chalk this one down to experience and move on. The future looks bright for the Cardiff Fire.
Cardiff Fire 1 are back at IAW on Sunday 19th November when they entertain the Swindon Wildcats.
All picture credits to Mr Julian Blackburn and his trusted IPhone 8!