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Photo courtesy of Helen Brabon

Devils 4 – 7 Storm

After the constant pressure to get results every week to maintain their position at the top of the league, no-one could begrudge the Devils a couple of comedown games. They probably didn’t realise the psychological toll that pressure takes until was relieved last Friday in Belfast. So, failing to win against Manchester tonight was not a surprise, particularly with Bowns, Strachan, Reddick and Martin all rested.

Rutkis gained early and frequent shifts, as did the 4th line of Myers, Batch and Piggsie, which was also an indication that players weren’t being over exerted. Murdy pulled off a couple of glove saves, but when his helmet became dislodged Long scored inside his near post. This woke the Devils up and some melees around Clemente’s net ensued. When Rosehill got a roughing call on Rutkis, the Devils PP unit proved effective. Hotham fed Myers who came in from wide outstripped a despairing lunge to dink home. Storm retaliated swiftly however, when Beca had a succession of digs and the puck squeezed under Murdy’s arm. With Reddick and Strachan out, Paris relished being given more licence to roam forward and looked menacing with his slapshot. Pitt sat for hooking and the PP unit equalised again when the puck was shifted out to Pope to barrel it home.

The second period started with an early Devils break but Crowder couldn’t dig it out from his feet. Storm hit the post then on the immediate break out Faryna fed Paris cross ice who finished with a blasting shot from the face off point. Strangely a review for a Storm goal that no-one had noticed and that had occurred several minutes previously was called for and to the Devils surprise, they found themselves at 3-3. Within a minute of this award, Storm broke quickly and Hanson scored so within the space of minute the Devils found themselves switching from a position of 3-2 up to 4-3 down. This probably marked the tipping point in the game. Louis scrapped with Hansen and Faryna went close shorthanded, with Rutkis then having a similar chance when he emerged from the box, but neither chance produced a goal. A subsequent PP produced a succession of shots but somehow the puck stayed out and the Devils finished the period a goal down.

The third period didn’t start well, when an awkward bounce off the boards behind Murdy’s net led to Louis surrendering the puck and Auger flipped it backhand over Murdy. Fournier attempted to spark a response, skating past players and carrying the puck deep into the offensive zone, and Paris continued to threaten from the blue line. But the Devils were not quite connecting tonight, like a skype call that loses every third word. You can make out the intent but the overall quality is absent. The Devils got a PP and pulled Murdy, but this only succeeded in giving Byers and empty netter. Almost immediately after Faryna scored with a tip in, but then in rapid succession, a second empty net goal was conceded to give Storm a convincing win.

While this game did not mean anything, and does not carry any portents for the play off, it does signify that the Devils will need to play their full roster this weekend. It can become difficult to shake off a lethargic way of playing and they won’t want to enter the playoffs on the back of a run of defeats.

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