Devils EW won their third straight game, having scored 28 goals in the process. They are now level at the top of the table with Devils South - who they face on April 1st.
For the second year in a row, Devils EW found themselves in a 0W 2L hole to start the season. And for the second year in a row they have somehow found a way to scratch and claw their way back into contention. With last night's 9-1 victory over North, EW now find themselves in control of their destiny. Behind the Flying Frenchman, Baptiste Frioux (5G, 2A) and a 31 save performance from The Beast, EW had what could be called their statement game of the season. With continued stellar defensive showings by Matti Konsala (1A) and Jon Foster (1A) plus the generation of countless offensive rushes from newcomer Christian McCracken (3A), EW has shown the ability to receive contributions from every player in the line up.
Philippe Mueller (1G) got EW off to a strong start converting a nicely fed breakaway pass from Frioux and depositing it behind North tender Adam Veg for a 1-0 lead. Shortly after Kevin "Tomahawk" Leizer dropped the lumber on recently immigration-approved EW forward Chris Huston (1A, 1 badly bruised forearm), Frioux extended the lead to 2-0 ending the first period.
In the second, EW extended their lead to three when a nice pass from Bob Chebator (1G, 2A) was corralled and wristed by Frioux past the blocker of Veg. At that point in the game EW looked to be on their way to victory, but it wasn't so straightforward. The new/old helmet of Mueller wasn't able to absorb his violent crash into the end boards following a breakaway attempt that was turned away by Veg. While the Swiss was being tended to on the bench, defensemen-turned-forward Adam Kutas went down awkwardly and joined his EW teammate on the sidelines. With EW down to 7 players, chaos resumed and North took advantage. A nicely placed slapper from North defensemen Richie Clark (1G) found its way through a maze and into the back of the net. Although shorthanded, EW was quick to respond with Eugene Gorelik (2G, 2A), wristing a sneaky shot to the far corner to make the score 4-1. The North thought they had a way back into the game when James M and James H broke in on a 2 on 0. The Beast was up to the task however, and it was not to be. Soon thereafter, Frioux showed tremendous individual effort and skill to put the nail in the North's coffin - ending the period at 5-1, instead of 4-2.
With Beast turning away shot after shot, EW put the game away in the third period. Two goals by Frioux, followed by single tallies by Chebator and Gorelik rounded out the score to 9-1. EW now has their sights on South on April 1st. -B. Chebator
1st Period -
1. G - Mueller A - Frioux, McCracken
2. G - Frioux A - Gorelik
PENALTIES - NORTH
Leizer - Slashing
2nd Period -
3. G - Frioux - A - Chebator, Foster
4. G - Gorelik - A - Chebator
5. G - Frioux - A - Gorelik, Konsala
1. G - Clark - A - Hepburn
3rd Period -
6. G - Frioux- A McCracken
7. G - Frioux - A Huston
8. G - Chebator - A Gorelik, McCracken
9 . G - Gorelik - A Frioux
Frioux - Cross Checking
The Devils joint-hosted a mini tournament at Alexandra Palace, as the Westminster Statesmen and the Mississauga Hawks - a veteran’s team from Canada, lined up for a Thursday night jamboree of hockey.
After glancing at the printed schedule, the travelling Canadians had one question... “Will there be beer in the interval?” It was a statement of expectation rather than a question, probably down to the fact their dressing room was inexplicably as hot as the inside of a McDonalds Apple pie i.e. nuclear.
After years of being presented with beer, cake, badges and all sorts of kind gestures whilst on the road, the Devils knew their hosting plans now had a gap that needed to be filled.
Heroes Walt Sheloff and Stu Wroe headed off down the hill to grab a crate of the finest Polish brew and everything was back on track.
On the ice, the Statesmen and the Hawks faced off first - their high-tempo warm-up no doubt aided by the ‘Driving Anthems’ CD pumping out of the Palace speakers.
The canucks fell behind early on, before rallying to a 4-3 win. There was late drama as the Statesmen hit the crossbar with under a minute to go, and the Hawks then missed a shot at the empty net to seal it.
Throughout the game, the Hawks could been seen glancing back at the stands towards their wives. Quiet giggling soon turned to belly laughs in the red seats behind, as Devils d-man Brooks regaled the travelling Canadian support with tales from the motherland and who knows what else. Instead of sinking cans of Tyskie between games, the Mississauga players now had to go and quiz their wives about what lines exactly the dashing Devils blue-liner had been delivering - and whether or not they needed to seek revenge in the later game against the Devils.
Stalemate with Statesmen
The Devils took to the ice for the game against the Statesmen to the sounds of iconic British band of the 80’s Tears for Fears playing over the tannoy.
Tears of frustration soon followed however as the Devils huffed and puffed on an ice surface covered in more snow than Chamonix. French star Baptiste Frioux uncharacteristically blazed wide when through on goal and his normally reliable linemate James Mulligan appeared to have left his scoring touch in Canada on his recent trip home.
The Statesmen took the lead as a shot from the point rebounded straight out to the unmarked Frietag who picked out the top shelf past The Beast.
The Devils replied almost immediately as Terry Wong slotted one in from his office in front of the net after good work down low by Misha Neizvestnov to tee him up.
A much needed ice cut took place to the backdrop of a tune that wouldn’t have been out of place on the soundtrack of an Emmanuelle movie.
The lusty sax and now glistening pad failed to inspire both teams into free flowing sexy hockey and the same scrappy play continued as before. The Devils piled forward looking for a winner, but a resulting 4 on 2 counter attack reaped rewards for the Statesmen. Defenseman Striet skated down the wing, ignored all passing options and squeezed the puck under Beast's armpit to give his team a 2-1 lead.
With a running clock, the Devils now had to pull something out of the bag to stretch their season-long unbeaten run and save some face, not least with the watching Mississauga club in attendance. Thankfully Mad Dog Malacarne patted down a long pass out of defence teed up Frank Walshe who slotted home nicely to tie things up at 2-2. Both teams tried in vain to break the deadlock to no avail, and that's how the game ended.
Bring on the Canadians
With a point in the bag, the Devils knew only a win would be good enough to lift the non-existent trophy in their next game against the Canadians.
To put them off their game, DJ and timekeeper Matt Greaves dug out the Palace’s classic Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 35 CD to really put the cat amongst the pigeons. Any hope the tourists had of a bit of Canadian motivational warm-up music was put to bed straight away. No Tragically Hip, Avril Lavigne or Bryan Adams. No KD Lang or Nickleback to fire up the legs.
Instead, Gabrielle and East 17 messed with their minds and the Devils started the game like a freight train - ok maybe a DLR, quicker but still a bit shakey.
Sheloff, may have bought the opposition beers pre-game but that’s where his charity ended for the night. ‘The Falcon’ dug the puck out in front of goal after Misha had his effort saved, and then slotted it into the bottom corner to open the scoring.
It was 2-0 soon after as Wong got his second of the night, and then Walshe spotted Harry the Seagull Grant soaring through the slot and fed him the puck like chips on a pier to make it 3-0. The Devils were cooking with gas and when Mad Dog made it 4-0, rounding off a good move involving Walshe and Grant, the game was over as a contest at the halfway mark.
However there was still a period to play and the tourists turned up the heat. A blocked shot on the blueline set McEachern on a breakaway, only to be denied by the Beast. The Devils line of Flinner, Frioux and Mulligan had been muted up until this point with recent comparisons of the latter pair to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in England’s misfiring ‘Golden generation midfield’ circa 2006-2014.
The line answered the doubters with a nice interchange of passes in the opposition zone including Flinn and the rampaging Jon Foster, eventually buried by Frioux at the back post for 5-0.
Flinn wasn’t finished there and for one reason or another he had the bit between his teeth. Had one of the opposition disrespected Nova Scotia? Had Flinn identified family members of his arch Pond Hockey nemesis and former Stanley Cup winner Bryan Skrudland on their roster? No one knew, but minutes later he flattened the Mississauga captain, who was not best pleased.
The visitors kept plugging away and had a number of chances, only to find the Beast in fine form.
Mad Dog sniped in another effort from the right wing to make it 6-0 with four minutes left, and on the buzzer Flinn finally tapped home a Mulligan pass only to see it washed out – one can only assume due to loud remonstrations from the Missisauga defence and goalie.
It mattered not, and the touring side ended with one win and a loss from their visit to the Palace. They skated off to cheers from the Statesmen players in the stands who were enjoying some cold beverages of their own by this stage.
All three teams then retired to the Highgate Inn for the post-match meal of champions - pizza and beer. The pub has never been so full on a Thursday night and everyone went home happy (not the least of whom was Denis the owner).
London Devils: Scoring
Devils 2 - Statesmen 2
Terry Wong (M. Neizvestnov)
Frank Walshe (G. Malacarne, D.Carr)
Devils 6 - Hawks 0
Walter Sheloff (M. Neizvestnov)
Terry Wong (unassisted)
Harry Grant (F. Walshe, G. Malacarne)
Giuseppe Malacarne (F. Walshe, H. Grant)
Baptiste Frioux (J. Foster, A. Flinn)
Giuseppe Malacarne (F. Walshe, H. Grant)
Devils North sealed a priceless victory over Devils South in a tense encounter at Lee Valley Ice Centre.
With pre-game chat centring around the sad passing of Prodigy frontman Keith Flint earlier in the day, and fellow firestarter Gary Reid's ill-fated (and previously undocumented) short reign over the Haringey Greyhounds, the scene was set for a classic Bodean's Cup clash.
Ravaged by late pull-outs by Guacamole Godfather Fox, Woody, and Hacksaw Maguile, South coach Richie Veinot was boosted by a late arrival of Terry Wong to add some attacking flair to his line-up.
In contrast, the North skated out with their familiar settled line-up (minus Mad Dog Malacarne), bolstered by Kev 'The deke' Leizer passing a late fitness test (conducted by none other than Kev Leizer).
North came out of the blocks hard. Dr James Hepburn and James Mulligan had early chances but were both denied by South goalie George Alley.
Alley, still sporting the head band mentioned in previous reports was in 'the zone', despite being accused in a passive aggressive manner of stealing a junior player’s t-shirt by an angry parent in the pre-game build up. Thankfully the t-shirt was found before the old bill were called but who knows what other repercussions may be sought. Devils changing in the forest behind the rink by April? Who knows.
After soaking up early pressure, the South then pounced to break the deadlock on the counter attack. A lapse at the back from the North defence sent a wayward pass straight to a grateful Veinot breezing into the neutral zone, who then skated in on Adam Veg and made no mistake with the finish.
The North almost replied immediately as Harry 'The Seagull' Grant flew straight through the South defence like The Beast through Ukrainian airport security, bringing out a massive save from Alley.
It was a warning shot the South should have heeded but didn’t. Minutes later a goalmouth melee was converted by flame-haired sniper Mulligan who slammed the puck past Alley on the backhand from the slot. The former cake taster then allowed himself a congratulatory fist pump before accepting celebratory hugs from team mates.
The South's poor positional play in their own zone was making life easy for the North by now with Dan Maze and Richie Clark left all alone on the point, firing in shots at will. The pressure had to tell and it was no surprise when Grant fired home unmarked in the slot to make it 2-1 from a Mulligan pass.
Despite their defensive frailties, the South managed to equalise almost immediately as Veinot again popped up in front of goal, firing home from close range after great work by Misha Neizvestnov and Ian Williams behind the net.
The second period started in familiar fashion with the North doing all the pressing only to be disrupted by a couple of minor penalties. Luckily for the North, the South’s powerplay was as useful as a concrete parachute and failed to give Veg much action. (*the editor would like to take this time to also credit the North penalty killers...)
The South were forced to kill a penalty of their own shortly afterwards, and nearly caused a complete meltdown on the North bench by sending on a fifth skater a minute too early. In fairness to Gordo - who had charged on to the ice after two minutes to the chagrin of an audibly protesting Frank, he may well have missed the memo regarding three minute running clock penalties in Bodean's Cup. (*the editor would like to point out that penalties have been 3min in Bodean's games for about five years now). Karma was dished out from above a few minutes later as the far blue line ironed out the Devils South #10 in style.
The North soon edged ahead again as Richie Clark stepped into the play down low and pulled the puck back to Walter Sheloff unmarked on the far point. The centerman stepped in to meters of space and fired high into the roof of the net past the diving Alley to give the North a 3-2 lead.
The third period started with the South testing Veg with a number of efforts with "New" Chris and Veinot going close. At the other end Alley was also in good form denying Go-Hard Hepburn and the rampaging Sullivan.
More North penalty trouble gave the South further powerplay opportunities but again they were killed with relative ease.
As the minutes ticked down, the South were handed a lifeline as a lazy tripping penalty by Kevin Leizer set up a 6 on 4 dramatic finale with the South goalie pulled. Gamesmanship from the Seagull killed a few seconds, but when the puck dropped there was only one real chance for the South as a point shot was tipped by Williams past Veg but flew agonisingly wide.
The game was sealed soon after as Veinot’s shot cannoned off Clark and the offensive blueliner skated alone down the ice to bag an empty net goal.
Despite the North’s victory and domination of possession it had been a gutsy display by the South and this was underlined post-game, as Andre ‘Does what he wants’ Blais and New Chris kicked off a psychological battle with Walshe and Grant, the likes of which has never seen before.
"Just where the h*ll do you think you're sitting??"
Neutrals can only hope these two teams meet in the final because shots were well and truly fired and it means fireworks when these teams meet again. -DC
Devils North: Scoring
James Mulligan (M.Lay)
Harry Grant (J.Mulligan, M.Lay)
Walter Sheloff (R.Clark)
Richie Clark (unassisted) -EN
Devils North: Penalties
Kevin Leizer 2min hook
Bench 2min too many
James Hepburn 2min trip
Kevin Leizer 2min trip
Devils South: Scoring
Richard Veinot (unassisted)
Richard Veinot (M. Neizvestnov, I.Williams)
Devils South: Penalties
Andrew Flinn 2min trip
Gordon Malcolm 2min trip