This past weekend the weather front know as "The Beast from the East" returned to the U.K., covering parts of London with snow. On Monday night at Lee Valley, Devils EW unleashed their own Beast from the East in the form of Oleg Adamchuk to hold off a furious comeback by Devils North en route to a 5-4 EW victory.
It's hard to believe that just one month ago, following a demoralising 9-7 loss to this same North squad, EW was dead in the water. They sat 0-3 and occupied the cellar of the Bodean's Cup standings. Now two games later, EW is riding the momentum of a two-game winning streak, scoring 14 goals in the process. With veteran Wojtek Tusz a late scratch due to an injury suffered blocking a shot against the London Rangers last week (editor's note: must check facts here), EW had to rally the troops to meet the challenge of the North. Bodean's Cup leading goal scorer Baptiste Frioux netted himself a hat trick while gutsy Eugene "second assist" Gorelik shook off the effects of a crippling head cold on his way to a 4-point night.
Rookie Emil von Bulow opened the scoring early for EW, streaking down the left wing and unleashing a rocket to the top corner. Five minutes later, a decisive pinch by Jon Foster on the power play allowed Gorelik to bury a nifty cross-ice pass from Frioux and it was 2-0 midway through the first period. Shortly thereafter, Frioux made it 3-0 knocking home the rebound of a Chebator wrister. A late North goal by the always reliable Jon Alcock, set up by the work of Max Lerner and James Mulligan, let EW know that North wasn't giving up without a fight.
Whereas the first period was controlled by EW, the North had other ideas in the middle stanza. However, before North could find their stride, a quick strike by Frioux put EW up 4-1. From there it was all North as Mulligan and Alcock would combine again with Mulligan redirecting an Alcock shot from the point to close the gap to 4-2. After a dominating puck possession shift, James Hepburn and Walter Sheloff's gritty efforts paid off when Kevin Leizer took advantage of a loose goal-mouth rebound, swatting the puck past a surprised Beast to make it a one-goal game. The North wasn't done yet - as Lukasz Gryzbon found a streaking Mulligan through the neutral zone. Mulligan proceeded to dangle around the EW defender, finishing with a baseball-like swat of his own rebound and just like that it was all squared up 4-4 at the end of two periods.
For most of the third period, it was The Beast fighting off shot after shot as a frenzied North attack had him lunging, diving and scrambling all over the crease. North goaltender George Alley was not to be outdone as he turned away a multitude of quality EW shots keeping the game all knotted up at fours. Finally it was Frioux yet again who put EW ahead for good following solid forechecking from Rick Hurwitz and Gorelik. A last-minute North push with the goalie out came up empty and when the final whistle blew, EW had themselves a 5-4 victory. - B. Chebator
Devils East-West: Scoring
Emil von Bulow (B. Chebator, C. Fonte)
Eugene Gorelik (B. Frioux, J. Foster (PP)
Baptiste Frioux (B. Chebator, E. Gorelik)
Baptiste Frioux (E. Gorelik)
Baptiste Frioux (R Hurwitz, E. Gorelik)
Devils East-West: Penalties
Devils North: Scoring
Jon Alcock (J. Mulligan, M. Lerner)
James Mulligan (J. Alcock)
Kevin Leizer (unassisted)
James Mulligan (L. Gryzbon)
Devils North: Penalties
H. Grant (2min check)
The Devils and Rangers renewed their rivalry on Monday night at Lee Valley. Both teams were pleasantly surprised when they arrived at Lee Valley to see the rink had been flooded hours before, and the lights turned off to allow for a beautiful clean sheet of ice not at all familiar in London. However, their hopes were quickly dashed when they noticed the benches were filled with judges' tables left over from a figure skating competition earlier in the day. Both teams would have to get used to changing from a single door on their own goal line. Welcome to hockey in London.
The game started cautiously, with both teams expecting the same type of tight-checking affair to which they had become accustomed when facing each other. An early break and nice dangle by Mike Fox-Higgins quickly calmed the Devils' nerves and put them up 1-0. The line of Fox-Higgins, O'Marra, and Frioux scored a second quickly thereafter to make it 2-0. The game levelled out for a bit before two quick goals from the Devils quickly turned the game on its head. Another snipe from Fox-Higgins before the end of the period gave the Devils a 5-0 lead after one.
The teams changed sides (both ends of the rink, and benches) in order to avoid having to make the longest change ever in the second period. The break seemed to spark the Rangers and leave the Devils with a little complacency. After a brilliant rush down the wing and snipe by a Rangers forward, the Devils lead was quickly cut to 5-1. A second goal from a scramble in the high slot gave the Rangers a some hope at 5-2, before two gritty goals from the Devils - including one thrust into the net by Phil Holbrook's "other" stick, restored the five-goal lead.
Heading into the third the game lost a bit of momentum with a five-goal deficit on the clock, and both teams heavily frustrated by the refs. A goal by French speedster Frioux and a tip in front by Mulligan gave the Devils further daylight, while the Rangers potted one of their own in return as the teams saw out the third period.
With four rookies in the line-up, the Devils newcomers certainly justified their selection throughout the match. O'Marra and Lerner had multi-point nights and Jan Thomson put in a strong performance at the back. He has now learned the Devils adage of "now that you've played D once, you're never playing forward again" (see Maugile, Clark, Alcock for reference). Final mention for a calm and collected performance in goal from Adam Veg who dealt with the always dangerous Rangers snipers well on the night.
The teams will meet again in a few weeks' time for game two of the challenge series.
London Devils: Scoring
Mike Fox-Higgins (unassisted)
Baptiste Frioux (M. Fox-Higgins, R. O'Marra)
Max Lerner (B. Chebator, J. Mulligan)
James Mulligan (B. Chebator, M. Lerner)
Mike Fox-Higgins (R. O'Marra, B. Frioux)
Mike Fox-Higgins (B. Frioux, R. O'Marra)
Phil Holbrook (H. Grant, W. Tusz)
Baptiste Frioux (R. O'Marra, M. Fox-Higgins)
James Mulligan (D. Maugile, M. Lerner)
London Devils: Penalties
J. Mulligan (2min slash)
B. Chebator (2min rough)
Devils East-West turned the tables on league leaders Devils South with a 9-5 win in an ill-tempered Bodean's Cup clash at the Lee Valley Ice Centre
With parts of London braced for a devastating 5cm of snow, it was only the bravest of Devils who defied the ‘Beast from the East’. It was therefore no surprise that Devils East West showed up with just two lines, whilst the South were bolstered by three.
After a big 6-1 spanking of the North the previous week, the South were in buoyant mood, boosted by the return of top scorer Ryan O’Marra, blueliner Dumas Maguile, and now full-time Parisian Mark Maloney.
By all accounts Maloney enjoys French life, but like everyone he must surely get frustrated by the dirty Paris Metro and their distinct lack of pub culture i.e. beers in pints. By the end of the evening he, and the rest of the Devils South had another name to add to the list of Gallic annoyances, a certain Baptiste Frioux.
The prolific blue-helmeted speedster had scored just twice in his opening two games in the competition but started the game as he meant to go on, jamming home a goal-mouth scramble past the stranded Shane Kemp in his first shift. Before the South could blink it was 2-0 as Frioux fired home his own rebound to extend the lead. East-West were in full flow and with just six minutes gone they made it 3-0 after a lovely weighted past by Wojtek Tusz from the right wing was slotted home by Emil von Bulow unmarked in the slot.
The South were stinking the rink out and even the first powerplay of the night – a tripping call on Jon Foster, ended in misery after O’Marra was tripped in the neutral zone and hobbled off clutching his groin.
The East-West forward line of Gorelik, Chebator and Frioux continued to cause the South defence problems and it was Triple B, Big Boston Bobby, who extended the lead to 4-0 with a cool finish into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
The South desperately needed something… anything… and it finally came towards the end of the period as Mike Fox-Higgins stepped in from the right wing, dropped his shoulder and fired past the original (and best) Beast from the East.
At 4-1 down the South needed a spark and it finally came from O’Marra who steamed down the right wing and let go a clapper that flew through Beast’s five hole. Just moments later, a big shot from the point by Maguile squirmed through traffic and Beasts legs before rolling over the line and into the net. The South celebrated hard, this was the catalyst they had been waiting for… but alas referee Pavel washed it out, judging that Richard Veinot had made a kicking motion to get the final touch – a call not taken well by the South in truth. If the temperature outside was low, the mercury was starting to move a fair bit higher inside the rink.
East-West kept their composure and punished some risky South play with a flurry of goals that effectively won them the game. Gorelik teed up Frioux on a two on one for a smart finish and then the veteran scored himself with Kemp hung out to dry again. It was 7-2 shortly afterwards after a superb solo goal from the man in the blue helmet made it four on the night for him, and then Chebator grabbed his second of the night to effectively kill off the game as a contest. This was also helped by a malfunctioning pen that saw Pavel spend almost three minutes trying to get it to work to note down the scorer. Thankfully off-duty goalie Adam Veg saved the day, and the sanity of the agitated South bench by providing a substitute biro at the break.
Before the end of the period there was time for Fox-Higgins to pull another goal back with a solid finish at the far post to make it 8-3.
The South needed a massive final period and shuffled their lines, with Fox-Higgins and O’Marra teaming up for the first time in the evening. It paid dividends almost immediately as Fox-Higgins picked his spot past Beast from the right hand side after good work from Todd Donnelly. Any momentum was lost however as Tusz dangled through the South defence almost straight from the face off and deked Kemp with a cool backhand finish for 9-4.
The game had been niggly since the second period in fairness, and when Fox-Higgins was caught by a clumsy hit in the corner by von Bulow, the touch paper was lit. Was there a full moon outside? Had the Beast from the East arrived in spirit? Or were both teams full of characters not prepared to back down in an argument. It was clearly the latter, and words were exchanged and tempers flared for much of the remainder of the game and afterwards.
Further goals for the South including a long range pea-roller from Paul House and a snapper from O’Marra coming in from the right wing were not enough to get the South back in the game and the final score ended 9-6 in favour of East West. -D. Carr
Goal EW Frioux
Goal EW Frioux, Chebator,
Goal EW von Bulow, Tusz
Pen EW Foster Hooking
Goal EW Chebator, Gorelik
Goal STH Fox-Higgins, Maguile
Goal STH O’Marra, Veinot
Goal EW Frioux, Gorelik
Goal EW Gorelik, Chebator
Goal EW Frioux, Janetta
Goal EW Chebator, Foster
Pen STH Brooks tripping
Goal STH Fox-Higgins
Goal STH Fox-Higgins, Donnolly
Goal EW Tusz, van Bulow
Pen EW von Bulow – boarding
Goal STH House, Williams, Carr
Goal STH O’Marra, Brooks
Pen STH Maguile Interference