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Valentine's Day in the EIHL

February 14th in the Elite Ice Hockey League saw the home teams step out onto the ice in their special Valentine’s Day threads, and all five home sides were victorious. The Steelers recorded their second straight three-goal shutout win whilst the Blaze picked up their twelfth overtime win of the season. Five goals in the third period saw the Storm pick up a win on the day of love with the Devils making it ten games unbeaten with two late goals securing the two points over the Flyers, and the Panthers making it two home wins in a row having fired five past Dundee.

Cardiff Devils 3-2 Fife Flyers

Two goals in the final 10 minutes of the game saw the Devils secure their tenth consecutive win inside a sold-out Vindico Arena. Jamie Arniel fired the hosts ahead just four minutes into their mid-week game over the Fife Flyers as the Devils piled the pressure on Dominik Salama’s net. The Canadian centreman fired a rocket over the shoulder of the Fife netminder, and it would be the only goal of the first period as the visitors trailed heading into the first intermission.

Despite successfully killing an early penalty at the start of the second period as the Flyers played with a five-on-three advantage, the Devils conceded two goals in quick succession when the visitors returned to full strength. Lucas Chiodo levelled the scoreline at 30:00, beating Tyler Wall high at the back post before Colin Shirley fired Fife ahead just 97 seconds later.

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Excellent goaltending from Dominik Salama maintained their one-goal advantage for the rest of the second period and the first ten minutes of the third period even though the Devils had two powerplay opportunities, both of which they failed to capitalise upon. At 53:40, after good work from Evan Mosey who worked the puck up the ice and into the Flyers’ zone, Justin Crandall tied the game with a shot through traffic that beat Salama through the legs. Reinstating their lead, Cody Donaghey fired the puck past Salama once more with Tyler Busch crashing into the Fife net moments later sending the goal to be reviewed but Tom Coolen ultimately opted not to challenge the goal.

Salama vacated his goal with 94 seconds left to play as Fife went with six skaters but a late pad stop by Wall who earnt his third start in a row, kept the game from going to overtime with the Devils winning in Cardiff.

Coventry Blaze 4-3 Glasgow Clan (OT)

It was a twelfth overtime win of the season for the Blaze at Skydome Arena on Valentine’s Day after the Clan tied the game late on, earning themselves a point.

Having returned from GB duty, David Clements returned to the line-up for Coventry whilst Robert Lachowicz returned to Glasgow with the latter helped also by the return of Canadian defenceman Stephen Desrocher who made his full debut.

Kevin Lindskoug in net for the Clan made a series of strong saves to deny the hosts from opening the scoring in the first 10 minutes: Kim Tallberg watched as his shot from the centre went wide followed by the Glasgow goalie making the save to prevent Alexander Kuqali from finding the back of the net, and his efforts were rewarded when the visitors took the lead at 15:50. Luke Lynch was credited with the goal after the initial shot took a deflection off his skate, finding its way past Taran Kozun.

Alexander Kuqali scored the equaliser with 55 seconds of the period left to play, burying the puck past Lindskoug from just outside the crease with the assist going to Ian McNulty who created the chance on a breakaway.

The Clan’s top goalscorer Gary Haden helped the visitors to regain their lead just 93 seconds after the restart with Darien Craighead’s shot falling loose of Kozun’s grasp and into the path of Haden to put over the line backhanded.

An incredible goal from J.D. Dudek brought the score level once more as he controlled a bouncing puck, bringing it out of the air before deke-ing his defenceman as he dragged it inside and slid it past the Glasgow goalie at 30:14. There were opportunities for the Blaze to take the lead before the end of the second period with two efforts hitting the post whilst on the powerplay, but the Clan managed to hold on whilst Cody Sol sat in the penalty box for interference.

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Taking the lead for the first time in the game, Coventry’s Mitch Cook picked up the puck in the Clan’s zone before firing it towards the net, his shot hitting Dudek in front of goal as it found its way beyond Lindskoug at 45:58.

The visitors did enough in the final few minutes of the third period to ensure the Blaze didn’t kill the game off with Lindskoug making an important save to deny McNulty on a breakaway before he was pulled in favour of an extra Clan skater. Stephen Desrocher marked his debut with a goal sending a slapshotted effort past Kozun, tying the game and sending it to overtime for the fifth consecutive time between the two sides. Dudek completed his hat-trick as he fired home the game-winning goal 2:45 into overtime sealing the win for the Blaze.

Manchester Storm 5-2 Belfast Giants

Five goals in the third period saw Manchester Storm return to winning ways as they fought back from being two down and were reunited with their captain Cam Critchlow who had spent the weekend away with GB as they began their journey to qualifying for the Olympics.

The hosts created multiple goal-scoring opportunities at the Shelter inside the opening five minutes but Jackson Whistle stood tall on his return from GB duties to keep the score level. The Giants were the ones to open the scoring at 12:47 with Baum capitalising upon the rebound of Weninger’s save of McLeod’s breakaway chance. The visitors doubled their lead only a minute later as Cameron Pound netted his first professional goal at 14:05, collecting the pass from Blake Speers and firing it home.

The second period was back and forth with Manchester Storm looking more threatening in the offensive zone, but Jackson Whistle worked hard to help his side hold onto their lead, denying Mitchell Martan before Ben Lake and Sean Norris were creating a chance at the other end that was saved by the glove of Weninger.

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Entering the period with a two-goal deficit, the Storm needed to work hard to get something from the game in front of their home crowd - and that they did. Two early powerplay goals saw the hosts level the score by 42:08: Dallas Ehrhardt fired a high shot past Whistle from the top of the left circle 28 seconds in as Sean Norris was penalised for holding before Joe Morrow scored a one-timer from the blueline as Sato sat two-minutes for tripping.

Loren Ulett scored a shorthanded goal at 43:55 to give Manchester the lead for the first time causing the Giants to respond with a spell of offensive pressure that saw Ben Lake and Jacob Friend hit the post in quick succession followed by Cooper being denied by Weninger’s glove.

Jackson Whistle couldn’t hold the shot from Storm captain Cam Critchlow at 51:03 with the rebound falling to Samuel Tremblay who extended the lead to two with less than ten minutes left to play, and the incredible comeback was rounded off with an empty net goal scored by Tyler Hinam who sent the puck into Whistle’s vacated net as Manchester Storm claimed the two points in the mid-week clash.

Nottingham Panthers 5-1 Dundee Stars

The Panthers made it two home wins in a row on Wednesday night recording a convincing 5-1 victory at the Motorpoint Arena over Dundee Stars.

With Jordan Kelsall sitting two-minutes for a tripping minor early in the first period, the Stars were on the powerplay but Stojanovic made the saves to keep the score level as the visitors failed to capitalise upon their player advantage.

It was Logan Neilson who opened the scoring netting his first Elite League goal at home as he tapped in Westin Michaud’s pass at the back door. Six minutes later, their lead was doubled courtesy of Hugo Roy who fired home from the slot after a Panther’s counter-attack that saw Otto Neiminen win the puck well before playing it to Anthony Luciani to set up Roy.

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The Panthers found the back of the net again early in the second period as Westin Michaud found space on the right hand side to feed Alexander Lunsjon who sent the puck into the top corner of Lucas Brine’s net. Otto Nieminen made it four in the 35th minute tipping Myles McGurty’s effort past the Dundee netminder before Nielson turned provider, passing the puck to Didrik Hendrant on the blue line who skated down the wing, cutting inside and firing his shot over the shoulder of Brine on the underside of the crossbar scoring the Panthers’ fifth.

Scoring Dundee’s first of the game, Jake Elmer managed to find a way past Stojanovic, breaking his shutout with a goal at 52-minutes, but the late consolation goal for the Stars was just that as the Panthers secured the two points and closed the gap on the playoff places to four points whilst Dundee were left without a win in five.

Sheffield Steelers 3-0 Guilford Flames

The Steelers added two more points to their league-leading total of 65 points in front of over 9,000 fans at the Utilita Arena on Valentine’s Day as they extinguished the Flames with their second straight three-goal shutout win.

The visitors had the better chances in the early stages of the game with Dominic Cormier forced to clear Brett Ferguson’s shot off the line before the Flames found themselves on a five-on-three penalty kill that allowed the Steelers to settle into the game and test Guilford’s defence. They couldn’t capitalise upon the powerplay opportunity and the period ended goalless despite the Steelers dominating the offence with 18 shots on McAdam’s goal.

Less than five minutes into the second period, the scoring was opened as Mitchell Balmas was the quickest to react to McAdam’s puck save of Dowd’s backhanded effort that sent the puck towards the side of the net - the Canadian slotted it into the net to give the hosts a deserved lead.

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Having returned from GB duties alongside Robert Dowd, Cole Shudra and Sam Jones, Brandon Whistle extended the lead to two-goals at 32:47. Colton Saucerman sent the puck towards Guildford’s net from the neutral zone with the Flames goalie only able to get a pad to it as it fell into the path of Whistle to slot home.

The Flames found themselves on an early powerplay at the start of the third period but their efforts were all saved by the incredible Matt Greenfield who recorded his tenth shutout of the season saving all 31 shots he was faced with to complete the set - he has now shutout every team in the league.

Marco Vallerand rounded off another Steelers victory with a Vallytine’s Day goal on the powerplay which was followed by strong defending from the hosts’ defence to deny the Flames even when on the powerplay as they recorded their first home win over Guilford Flames in five attempts.


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