Devils 6 – 2 Krefeld
If last night’s game was useful but difficult to discern much from, this game provided a greater measure of the Devils team, and one they passed impressively. Krefeld may have only won 11 games last season but they are still a DEL team, a superior league to the EIHL. The Devils started with Bowns, but were otherwise unchanged from last night.
The Penguins were content to soak up pressure early on, pinch the puck and break swiftly. Bowns was called upon to make a couple of quick reaction stick saves in the opening minutes to keep the Devils in the game. The Devils responded with some long range efforts from Paris, with Martin sniffing for rebounds. The majority of the attacks came from the Penguins, but it was the marauding Paris who hit the pipes. The Devils were comfortably holding their own, although the German team were wily in drawing penalties. The Devils PK unit had a good workout throughout the game, and Bowns covering up to ease the Devils through a 5 on 3 PK. Then at the close of the period while still on the penalty kill, a melee around the net saw the puck squirm lose for Reddick by the post on the very moment Crowder re-entered play.
The second started positively when Haddad fired a shot that pinballed off the netminder and into the goal, to give the Devils a two nil lead. Shortly after the Devils got their first PP which almost immediately yielded a goal for Pope. We had barely finished celebrating this when Richie bounced it off the back boards and Faryna placed it into the top corner. Four nil against a DEL team and it wasn’t halfway through the game yet. A further Devils PP gave Hotham a fifth goal before the offending player had put bum to seat in the penalty box. Krefeld deflated after the second goal and were now completely flat. All their effort and guile from the first period evaporated, and a big hit from Faryna on the boards left them looking weary.
The third saw a series of penalty kills for the Devils, often 5 on 3. Their PK unit and Bowns will be effective in getting them through down periods in games this season. On a rare even handed period, Faryna squeezed a scrappy goal by the net. On another Devils penalty (a soft one for Benti), Krefeld eventually got a goal over Bowns’ shoulder. The period ended with a series of penalties against the Devils, working 5 on 3 for much of it. Even Bowns’ heroics couldn’t endure this and the German side got a second before the finish.
While it is true this is not the best German side, and the friendly meant more to the Devils than to them, it still demonstrated that the gulf between the leagues has diminished over recent years. It will give Cardiff some confidence ahead of their European travels this week. They looked slick, powerful and confident which bodes well for the season ahead.