Fife Flyers fightback falls just short at Cardiff Devils

Matt Pope celebrates after putting Cardiff 2-0 up.
Matt Pope celebrates after putting Cardiff 2-0 up.

Cardiff Devils 3 Fife Flyers 2

A spirited late fightback at Ice Arena Wales was not enough to prevent Fife Flyers falling to a third successive defeat last night.

Cardiff Devils raced into a 2-0 first period lead thanks to goals from Charles Linglet and Matt Pope, and after a goalless middle frame, a second for Linglet early in the third period appeared to seal the points for the hosts.

However, Fife showed the resilience that has been a feature of their road performances this season as a powerplay goal from Mike Cazzola, followed by a shorthanded strike from Joe Basaraba, gave the visitors hope of forcing overtime, but Devils hung on for victory.

Fife head coach Todd Dutiaume said: "I'm not pleased with the result, but I'm pleased with our performance and fightback.

"We probably lost our calm in the first period for circumstances outwith our control, which we've discussed.

"I feel bad for my guys because sometimes they feel a little slighted, and we've talked about mental discipline.

"But all credit to Cardiff, they played a wonderful hockey game."

Dutiaume may have been referring to a hostly contested two minute penalty for Brett Bulmer for illegal equipment following a fight with Mark Louis.

Flyers made a strong start but found themselves training when former Devil Paul Crowder was sent to the box for tripping, and the home side took advantage on the powerplay with Linglet banging a loose puck past Shane Owen on 12.47.

Devils doubled their lead just over three minutes later when Matt Pope took over and dangled through traffic, with the puck taking a big deflection off Evan Stoflet on its way past Owen at 16.15.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the middle period, so the game headed into the final 20 minutes with the Devils holding on to a 2-0 lead.

Linglet extended the hosts' lead with his second goal of the night, a beauty that saw the Devils leading scorer stick-handle through the Fife defence at 45:59 before squeezing the puck through Owen's five-hole.

Flyers finally struck back at 52:06 with a powerplay strike from Mike Cazzola, who one-timed a rebound past a sprawling Ben Bowns to make it 3-1.

Devils looked like they were going to coast to the end when Cazzola picked up a penalty with 2:28 remaining, but it was the Flyers who scored to make it 3-2 short-handed courtesy of Joe Basaraba at 58:16, who finished at the back post after superb set-up from Carlo Finucci.

Flyers pulled their netminder for the extra attacker, but the Devils held on for the final 1:44 of the game to take the win.

After picking up two points from a possible six in Wales, Fife will not return to Cardiff again this season, although the defending champions still have to travel to Kirkcaldy on three occasions.

"I think it will be different story up there - I certainly hope so," Dutiaume added.