The Cardiff Devils will have forward Sean Bentivoglio available in their line-up this week as they face the Nottingham Panthers and Fife Flyers, after the leagues, Department of Player Safety overturned an initial ruling that we see Bentivoglio out of tonight’s meeting with the Panthers.
Bentivoglio was given a match penalty against the Guildford Flames last week following an open-ice hit on Flames forward Liam Stewart that saw both players leave the game, one through punishment and the other through injury.
Stewart picked up the puck in his own zone before skating seemingly backwards towards the blueline where he was met with his head down by a check from Bentivoglio.
The leagues Department of Player Safety described it by saying “With Guildford Flames player Liam Stewart attempting to gain control of the puck, Bentivoglio made a body to body contact with Stewart’s back left shoulder.
“Bentivoglio had his stick on the ice (no wind up into check), stayed plain (no elevation) and did not target the head, nor was there any evidence of any head contact on the play.” Also adding that the check was deemed a legal play.”
Despite rescinding the initial penalty called on the play, they also gave their support to the call made at the time of the incident, stating “The Department of Player Safety wishes to add that they support the on-ice call made by the game officials, who had to make a judgement call on the play with only one view of the incident in real time, compared to the frame by frame replays, with multiple views and different angles, available to the Department of Player Safety afterwards.”
Stewart remains out of action following the hit but without an estimate on when he’ll return to the ice, but he voiced his displeasure about the ruling on Twitter.
The Devils travel away to the Nottingham Panthers on Saturday night, looking to improve on their four wins in five games against the Panthers this season.
Both clubs represented the Elite Ice Hockey League in this year’s Champions Hockey League, with the Panthers being the first UK club to escape the group stage, but back on home soil, they’ve struggled, especially against the Devils.
Cardiff come into the fixture against the Panthers with a 3-point lead over the Belfast Giants at the top of the EIHL standings, while the Panthers have slipped to seventh in the 12 team league, and unless they change their fortunes they could be on for their lowest finish in the standings since the leagues formation in 2003.
After Saturday’s road trip for the Devils and the Red Army fanbase, they’ll return home to take on the Fife Flyers who have been one of the leagues surprise packages this season as they sit in third place with plenty of games in hand.
Fife are five points behind the Giants in second place but with five games less played so could jump ahead of the Northern Irish side shortly, and with three games less played than the Devils and eight points separating the teams, the title race could get even closer with a Fife win on Sunday night.
It’ll be the fourth meeting between the sides this year, and the second trip to South Wales for Fife and they’ll be looking for similar success as they got on their first trip.
Back in November, the Devils blew a 5 – 1 lead to eventually lose that meeting 8 – 6 much to the rest of the league’s delight.
With Bentivoglio back in the line-up, the Devils will be looking for a four-point weekend to help their league title defence, especially with a tough Challenge Cup meeting against the Sheffield Steelers coming up at the end of the month.