Cardiff Devils 8 - Belfast Giants 1
The Belfast Giants suffered a thumping 8-1 defeat to the league champions Cardiff Devils as they ended their regular season road games on a sour note.
With their British netminder Jackson Whistle still sidelined through injury, it was another start for Chris Truehl in the Belfast goal, while Andrew Lord opted for Cardiff’s Team GB backstop Ben Bowns between the pipes for the home side.
The start couldn’t have been much worse for the Giants, their hosts taking the lead at just 3:19 on the powerplay, a deflected puck batted out of the air to Joey Martin in the slot and the forward make no mistake in finishing five hole.
There was no let up from the Devils either, and but for Truehl it would have been much worse for Belfast as the netminder was smart to deny a Matt Pope shot from the top of the right circle before then blocking Gleason Fournier’s wraparound at the short side.
But his best save came just before the quarter hour mark, the American backstop going post to post to stop Layne Ulmer’s snapshot before then somehow throwing a glove behind the rebound from the slot.
At the other end, Bowns had barely been tested to this point, but he had to be alert when the Giants began to edge their way back into the game, deflecting a tipped shot over before sprawling to blank Steve Saviano at the backdoor.
Belfast’s best chance came early in the second period as they caught Cardiff on a poor line change and a stretch pass found Brendan Connolly but he couldn’t beat Bowns with the low wrist shot.
Instead, the Devils doubled their lead at 27:09 on the powerplay when a shot from the blueline was deflected to Jake Morissette, who finished at the backdoor, and that lead became three at 28:30 when Justin Faryna was left with too much space at the crease and he finished the centring pass.
That led an irate Adam Keefe to call a timeout, and it looked to have worked somewhat as the Giants began to put pressure on Bowns, forcing him into an excellent kick save on a shot from the high slot that was tipped out in front.
But the warning signs were still there and, after Sean Bentivoglio was denied by Truehl in a two-on-one with Paul Crowder, Cardiff made it four at 38:26, Matt Pope placing a precise wrist shot over Truehl’s glove side.
In almost identical fashion, Drew Paris added the fifth just 22 seconds into the third period, the defenseman gaining the zone before wristing a powerful shot over Truehl’s glove side and into the roof of the net.
At 43:58 it became six as the Devils powerplay struck yet again, Andrew Hotham winning the faceoff and slashing a shot past Truehl from the right circle, before the Giants finally ended the shutout at 49:17 when Darcy Murphy got a tip on a Brandon Benedict shot out in front.
That didn’t signal a sign of things improving any, and Cardiff added a seventh at 51:28 when Layne Ulmer poked home five hole and the rout was ended as Crowder grabbed the final goal of the game at 58:05, Truehl coming out to play the puck and hitting it against the forward, who controlled and slid it into the empty cage.
Man of the Match: Joey Martin (Cardiff Devils)