Preview: MK Lightning In Cardiff Cup Clash! (14 Oct)
By Mike Walls
It’s a return to cup action for Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning this Sunday as they host the defending league and play-off champions, the Cardiff Devils. Lightning will have been boosted by the 5-1 win against Nottingham Panthers which coincided with arrival of Nelson Armstrong to help bolster the defensive lines.
With Sunday being Lightning’s only fixture, an extra day of rest will hopefully give Lightning some hope against the Challenge Cup Group 3 leaders, the Welsh side currently three from three – including a heavy win for Cardiff against MK at Ice Arena Wales last month.
Devils, on the other hand, will have faced Dundee Stars the night before plus they also had European hockey during the week. They were narrowly defeated 3-1 by Sweden’s Vaxjo Lakers in the Champions Hockey League on Tuesday evening – Mike Hedden putting Cardiff 1-0 ahead in the first period in Sweden.
Since moving to the IAW, the Devils have had arguably their most successful period in their history boasting two league championships, a cup win and a play-off win in the last two seasons.
Head coach Andrew Lord has managed to keep the majority of his squad from last season and has also replaced those who left in the summer with experienced and talented players. Stalwarts Sean Bentivoglio, Joey Haddad, Joey Martin and, club captain, Jake Morrisette lead a strong attack which has been boosted by the arrivals of Hedden – from the German DEL- and Belarussian international, Charles Linglet – who has over 300 games under his belt in the KHL.
In defence Lord acted quickly to replace influential Defenceman, Andrew Hotham, who left after four seasons in South Wales. Ottawa Senators draft pick, Ben Blood, strengthens the blue line after three seasons in Finland. Canadian, Gleason Fournier, adds extra cover to a defence with a number of British internationals including Josh Batch and Mark Richardson plus the GB netminding tandem of Ben Bowns and Thomas Murdy.
A win for Devils will all but guarantee a place in the quarter finals of the competition, whilst a win for the Lightning will improve their chances of making the final eight with both teams having two games left in the group stage after Sunday night.