Cardiff Devils 9-1 MK Lightning (16 Sept)
By Paul Brookman
Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning endured a miserable night in Wales on Sunday when they were devoured by the Devils of Cardiff in a 9-1 reverse which put a dampener on their Challenge Cup campaign.
There was no denying that they were second best against last year’s Elite League champions or that the game was over as a contest even before the buzzer sounded for the first break. By that stage Doug McKay’s charges were 6-1 behind with little chance of pulling the tie round , watched by a Freesports TV audience treated to their first taste of British Elite hockey.
With just 13 skaters Lightning were always likely to struggle against a top team such as Cardiff – especially after the battle they had the previous night to secure the points against Coventry Blaze. Once more MK were missing Martin Mazanec (suspended), Nelson Armstrong (whose arrival has been delayed by visa problems) and the injured Owen Griffiths.
Even with them they would still have had a battle on their hands against Devils who were missing the influential Justin Faryna and Mark Richardson. Even when Lightning’s absentees are back the team will still be two or three players short of a roster big enough to cope with the inevitable injuries that will occur – at least a couple more decent Brits are needed to augment the squad.
The writing was on the wall as early as 1min 40secs when Devils’ new recruit Charles Linglet scored on the rebound from Layne Ulmer’s initial shot and the home tally was doubled at 12mins 28secs as Mike Hedden was allowed to skate through to pick his spot.
There was a brief moment of hope for Lightning 35 seconds later as some good work saw David Norris score from Michael Fine and Andreas Valdix’s set up.
But then it was back to business for Cardiff who registered three more times before the break – Linglet allowed time to make his pass to Jake Morissette to fire past goalie Patrick Killeen on 14mins 4secs ahead of an Ulmer strike from Linglet and Morissette 54 seconds after that.
When Killeen was penalised for delaying the game in the 17th minute Cardiff said thank you very much to make it 6-1 with their first powerplay marker – Joey Martin registering the opening goal of a straight hat-trick 36 seconds from the interval.
Devils replaced first choice goalie Ben Bowns with Thomas Murdy at the start of the middle stanza but Lightning could make no impression on a powerplay early on – Josh Batch in the bin for tripping – before, back at full strength, Devils added to their tally through Martin once again, aided this time by Matt Pope and Bentivoglio on 23mins 46secs.
Devils had a ‘goal’ ruled out when a video replay showed a high stick was used to fire the puck in before a tripping call on Clay Anderson led to goal eight for Devils when Martin completed his trio on the powerplay thanks to Linglet and Pope’s good work. Further misery for the visitors came on 36mins 16sec when Bentivoglio registered his first goal of the campaign, assisted by Joey Haddad to make it 9-1.
Devils could afford to ease up in the final session while Lightning didn’t give up the battle they were never going to turn around an eight goal deficit due largely to defensive frailties. Onward and upward.