Cardiff Devils 3 - 5 Belfast Giants
Faceoff: 18:00 - 24/02/13
Despite a stunning first period performance and a third period fight back, the Cardiff Devils fell to defeat against the Belfast Giants.
Cardiff dominated the first period from the very first face off and took the lead after just 49 seconds. Mark Richardson stole the puck off Darryl Lloyd on the blueline before weaving his way towards goal. Although his shot was saved, Max Birbraer was first the rebound and he fired the puck into the back of the net for the opener.
Less than a minute later and the Devils had doubled their lead. Once again Garrett Zemlak was unable to hold the initial shot and this time it was Josh Batch who slid home the rebound to make it 2-0 within the opening two minutes.
Cardiff were outworking and out-hitting their opponents and could easily have gone further ahead. Both Ben Davies and Stuart MacRae saw their shots beat Zemlak only for the puck to fly just over the crossbar from close range. Belfast had to halt the onslaught and midway through the period they did just that, Lloyd getting to the loose puck first and sliding it past Chris Whitley to cut the deficit.
The early stages of the second period were far more even, with both sides creating several chances to score. A Kevin Saurette slashing penalty gave the Devils a powerplay, but a quick Belfast break saw Chad Langlais tap in the rebound and tie the game after 32 minutes. Cardiff nearly hit back straight away on the same powerplay, only for Birbraer to be denied by a sensational diving-pad save from Zemlak.
The goal and save were a massive lift to the Giants and just two minutes later they took the lead on the powerplay. Noah Clarke worked the puck to Robby Sandrock on the blue line and he fired in a rocket of a slapshot that gave Whitley no chance.
A Noah Clarke goal early in the third period made it 4-2 in favour of the Giants and looked to have sealed the win the win for the visitors. Once again the Devils rallied though and after great work by Jesse Gimblett, Stuart MacRae was gifted the easiest of chances to flick the puck into the unguarded net and cut the lead to just one.
Seconds later the Devils nearly equalised when Max Birbraer intercepted a loose Belfast pass and setup MacRae, but his shot was saved by the scrambling Zemlak. Cardiff fired everything they could at the Belfast net but as they pushed forward looking for the equaliser they were caught out by a Belfast sucker-punch. Chad Langlais carried the puck from one end of the ice to other and was first to his own rebound to restore the two goal lead.
Cardiff pulled their netminder for the extra skater in the final minute but despite several close shaves the Giants hung on for the 5-3 win.