The London Rangers skated out 5-2 victors in game four of the best of five challenge series. The win forces a fifth and deciding game. More to follow...
London Devils: Scoring
Frank Walshe (G. Malacarne, B. Chebator)
Harry Grant (B. Chebator, P. Holbrook)
London Devils: Penalties
J. Sullivan (check)
G. Malacarne (check)
D. Maugile (trip)
G. Malacarne (slash)
G. Malacarne (misc)
Devils North lifted the Bodean’s Cup for the second consecutive season after a spirited display saw them triumph over Devils South in a rematch of last season's final.
The route to the final had been a rollercoaster for both teams albeit not exactly Alton Towers-esque given the fact only three teams compete in the Bodean's Cup. More a small rollercoaster at Legoland Windsor for under 11s.
South started the campaign brightly only to fall away and then recover like a tired sailor discovering a bottle of bourbon in the ship cupboard.
The North had looked dead and buried in March after a pair of confidence-sapping drubbings before a stunning turnaround in form. The key being an amazing comeback from 4-1 down to beat East West 7-4 in their final game of the season.
And so, at the historic Alexandra Palace the Bodean’s Cup Final 2019 faced off with gusto under the watchful eye of Pawel Olczak.
Missing star forwards Mike Fox-Higgins and Chris Phillips, South opted for a defensive game plan from the start with in-form netminder Shane Kemp a key component.
Without the smooth skating Richie Clark to quarterback things, the North employed a dump and chase tactic designed to create spells of pressure on the South goal. The tactics from both sides ensured the game as a spectacle was not one that would be remembered for anything other than the final result and the trophy lift - all that matters really anyway.
It was the North who scored first as Dan Maze carried the puck over the blueline, dropped to James Hepburn who faked the slapper, and found the still streaking Maze at the back post who finished calmly for 1-0. With the cling film broken, the North pushed on for more goals but Kemp refused to buckle, making a number of spectacular saves before the period was out.
If the South thought the 2nd period would get any easier they would be disappointed. The North set up camp in the offensive zone with the South struggling to get the puck out. The South were limited to long shots on stand-in North keeper Matty Hodgkins - each of which he swallowed well with no rebounds on offer. Hodgkins was having a relatively routine evening and could have been forgiven for sparking up a cigar, until his serenity was broken by a man well known for ruining peace and quiet.
It was Paul 'Mouth of the South' House who evened the score when Ian Williams picked out and inch perfect pass in front of net which House redirected past the North stopper to tie things up.
All tied at the start of the third, the result could now go either way. The North stuck to their gameplan but the South had grown into the game, buoyed by Kemp's strong goalkeeping. South skipper Rich Veinot created some space for himself down the right wing and ripped a rocket shot off the post. This acted as a wakeup call for the North who needed something extra to break the deadlock.
The North’s tactic of firing the puck in, blocking the channels and letting their forecheckers do the business was by now causing the South to tire. With eight minutes remaining, James Mulligan drifted into the zone and cut across the slot, before placing his shot through traffic past an unsighted Kemp for the all important go-ahead goal. The South needed a spark, but the thunder never arrived. With five minutes remaining, Giuseppe Malacarne controlled nicely, circled the South zone before firing from the slot. His rebound fell kindly at the back post to North captain Frank Walshe, who stabbed it home to make it 3-1.
The South pulled Kemp for an extra skater with two minutes to go, however despite Rich Veinot attempting to score directly from a face off four times in a row, there was to be no consolation.
The North celebrated on the final buzzer after a strong team performance. The South were gracious in defeat and raised a cheer for their opponents - a testament to the spirit in which the Bodean's Cup is played. -DC & FW
Devils North: Scoring
Dan Maze (J. Hepburn, J. Alcock)
James Mulligan (D. Maze, J. Sullivan)
Frank Walshe (G. Malacarne, H. Grant)
Devils South: Scoring
Paul House (I. Williams)
Devils World came from behind to defeat Devils Canada 3-2 on a late goal from guest alum Dave Heath. The focus of the night however, was to bid farewell to club legend Andrew Flinn. The turnout was quite frankly astounding and it's a testament to the high regard in which Flinner is held. 33 skaters, plus 5 teammates who couldn't skate for various reasons but still wanted to pay their respects made their way to the Pally or the pub after.
It was the 15th century English writer John Heywood who famously wrote “A rolling stone gathers no moss”; a phrase that still rings true to this day.
Perhaps long-time Devil Andrew Flinn was inspired by the works of Heywood before announcing his return to Nova Scotia? Could a fungus in his hockey bag have instigated the ending of his long tenure with the Devils? Or was it moss on the Lee Valley shower mats? Regardless, Flinn had made the call – not to gather moss.
The cavernous Alexandra Palace was the setting for his well-deserved testimonial game, with Devils Canada pitted once again against Devils World. Special guest and former team mate Davey Heath had signed up for a cameo and was already fully kitted and pacing around the rink like a caged lion before most Devils arrived.
It was soon apparent that the game had attracted the largest attendance of Devils in very a long time. No less than 10 different nations were represented on the night and both the Canada and World benches were packed with players.
The Canadians were rocked by injuries to centermen Paul House and Mike Fox-Higgins, but both sat in the stands to show their support, alongside The Godfather Ville Aer.
The Finnish legend was not injured, but had “been out for dinner”. A truly Godfather-esque response.
There were more questions to be asked, namely where would Englishman Heath slot in on the World roster? On a line with Mad Dog Malacarne and Lukas Gryzbon was the answer.
“What’s Mad Dog’ first name?” enquired Heath reasonably on the World bench as the game faced off. “Mad” came the immediate chorus, with no interjection from the feisty Italian.
Pawel Olczak dropped the puck on a scrappy opening few minutes. Large vinyl stickers of Flinn’s face stuck onto the boards by each blue line a possible distraction to those on the ice.
It was Canada who opened the scoring with a well-worked goal when Todd Donnelly collected the puck down low on the ten minute mark. His deft pass found Gordon Malcolm unmarked in the slot and his quick snapshot bounced off Matty Hodgkins' shoulder, up into the air and then back off the unfortunate World goalie back and into the net.
The goal marked a happy end to a stressful 72 hours for El Gordo. The Devils #10 had inexplicably left all of his kit in another haven of moss - Lee Valley car park, on Monday night after the Bodean's Cup game. Either that or his email had been hacked?
The Canadians used the momentum to pile on the pressure and soon it was 2-0. Mad Dog stickhandled around the entire Canadian line for a full circuit of the offensive zone in a true showcase of skill. Unfortunately for him, a quick poke check set the Canadians away on a breakaway and Richie Veinot slotted home after good work from Mulligan.
The Canadians were happier than J-Fo in an unlimited gravy evening at Swiss Chalet, but they were to be pegged back before the buzzer.
Dr James Hepburn opened his clinic behind the net before administering a superb reverse pass to Eugene Gorelik, who sniped top shelf - where the Spartak biscuits are kept - past the stranded Beast for 1-2.
The second period followed in the same way as the first until the World handed Canada a couple of powerplays. The first came after Chris Phillips smoked Mulligan harder than a Bodeans brisket, leaving the flame haired centre sprawled on the ice for a few seconds. The World shorthanded unit did the business and was called into action again as Patrice Kerner sat for hooking.
The Canadian powerplay again failed to fire and with five minutes remaining in the period they were punished. A spell of pressure on the World goal was halted as a diving Gryzbon cleared the puck out the zone past the Canadian defence to the waiting Heath on the left wing. The two hour pre-game warm up then reaped dividends for the former Slough Jet, who skated down on goal at speed and found the far corner with his shot to level things up at 2-2.
With the game set up for a grandstand finale, both teams came out in the third hard. Richie Veinot pinged the bar past Hodgkins and Kerner did likewise over Beast as it became clear that the next goal would probably seal the spoils.
The main man Flinn was gifted a great opportunity by a World defenseman with eight minutes remaining but couldn’t repeat his Bodean’s Cup heroics from earlier in the week. A hooking call on the now beardless Stuart Wroe gave Canada a great chance on the powerplay, however again they couldn’t make it count.
The game winning goal arrived five minutes from time in controversial circumstances. Gorelik sent a long pass with more sauce on it than a Soho Special down the boards to Heath, who dropped his shoulder and then sniped into the far corner from the left wing.
“Offside” came the screams from the Canadian bench, but Heath was already fist pumping the air in delight. As was Gorelik, who was wheeling away himself, more than pleased with his contribution. “Did Eugene just score?” asked a voice on the World bench. “Nope it was Davey” came the reply. It mattered not for the World – everyone was happy, including the Godfather in the stands, who’d had a “nice” meal.
Canada pulled the Beast for the closing stages but could not find a way, leaving the World with back to back wins over their rivals.
After an emotional photoshoot and a final shower in the mossy Ally Pally locker room, Flinn and the rest of the Devils rolled over to the Highgate for beers and pizzas.
Good luck Flinner. Don’t forget… the stone can roll both ways. -D.Carr
Man of the match - A. Flinn
Devils World: Scoring
Eugene Gorelik (J. Hepburn)
Dave Heath (L. Gryzbon)
Dave Heath (E. Gorelik)
Devils World: Penalties
C. Phillips (check)
P. Kerner (hook)
S. Wroe (hook)
Devils Canada: Scoring
Gordon Malcolm (T. Donnelly)
Richard Veinot (J. Mulligan)
Devils Canada: Penalties