Photo courtesy of Helen Brabon
Devils 6 – 2 Giants
After what has seemed like an age on the road, in which the Devils amassed three wins out of five, they returned to the IAW tonight to face next week’s Challenge Cup opponents in the league. After last night’s defeat at Manchester, Lord had talked about the need to come out fast, and that when they did so, the Devils tended to dominate games. There would be no surprises then for guessing how they would start this encounter.
Even if the Giants were aware of this, they were unable to counteract it. The Devils have certainly been mastering the quick start with a quick goal against Sheffield mid week. They continued this trend taking only 28 seconds for Bentivoglio (Hotham, Asselin) to put the Devils out in front. However, this lead didn’t last long as a fast shot from the hash marks flew past Bowns and tied the game (Towe from Mason and Ferland at 2:10). The momentum swung back in favour of the Devils as Sylvestre took a penalty for slashing at 2:15, opening the door to take the lead. Whistle and the defence remained strong, killing the power play, in what would be a feature of the game. The teams continued to exchange blows until it was time for the Devils penalty kill unit to get to work as Batch sat for hooking at 7:25. Bowns and the special team proved why they are one of the best in the league and completely shut down the Giants offence. As a scrappy period came to a close, Haddad looked to double the goals with a tight spin move, tricking the defence but not Whistle. The end of the period was delayed as Keefe decided it was a time for a timeout with 1:12 remaining. This odd timing didn’t do the Giants any favours as they finished the period on a 5 on 3 penalty kill. Both Shields and Martinelli sat in the box.
The Devils started the second on a 2-man power play. While not able to capitalise, there was good period of pressure. This didn’t matter though as Faryna (Ulmer and Reddick at 22:05) scored 8 seconds after coming off the man advantage, putting the home side up 2-1. The Devils put their opponents under pressure and did not look like easing off any time soon. This paid off as Bentivoglio (Asselin) earned his nickname and extended the Devils lead to two, when his flick pass from behind the net bounced of a Giants player arm and rolled past the despairing Whistle. If that goal had an element of luck, then one of the highlight goals of night then followed. The play began with a charge down the ice from Richardson who went round the back of the net. A shot from the blue line, was intercepted by Asselin and taken round Whistle backhanded to make it 4-1 at 32 minutes. Belfast showed some fight and pushed back. Spiro got the Giants back into the game with a hard shot making it 4-2. Tensions began to boil over as Riley tried to start a fight with Pope, although he refused to be drawn, giving the Devils the PP. The Giants would once again end the period short handed with Riley sitting for roughing.
The final period continued with Devils dominance and tempers flaring. After a rogue stick caught Riley in the face, he was lucky to escape without an abuse of official call after throwing expletives at Hicks. Haddad’s skilful night continued as he found himself on a breakaway, but he was unable to put it away after getting hooked. The rarity of a penalty shot was awarded to him. While able to score in previous games, tonight was not the night as Whistle didn’t fall for his fake out. But who needs a penalty shot when you’ve got a shot like Haddad’s? He got his goal at 50:52 with a slap shot soaring past Whistle. The best power play of the night followed as Sylvestre sat for cross checking. Some big saves, however, kept the Devils at bay. The game looked firmly in the Devils hands, only to be topped off by an empty net goal from Pope. The big game ended with the 2 points for the Devils, and with both Fife and Manchester losing, the title inched closer.