Commentators Curse – Cardiff Devils 4 – 5 Fife Flyers (OT)

It says a lot about the standard of Cardiff Devils hockey when losing three straight games can be considered a “slump”, but after a tough weekend they couldn’t bounce back on home ice in an overtime loss to the Fife Flyers last night.

Brett Bulmer’s overtime winner sealed the victory for the visitors Just 1:32 into the extra session to end a highly entertaining midweek game.

So now let’s talk about some things I noticed while providing analysis on the game.

  • Shane Owen is phenomenal

If you’re a Flyers fan you already knew this. It’s not every day you praise a goalie for allowing four on the night, but he also stopped 44 on the night, including that poke check.

In the third period with the game tied and less than 90 seconds to go, Owen gave the Devils the go ahead goal…or so everyone thought. A poor turnover by the goalie set the Devils up with an empty net to shoot at, but he quickly made his way around the net, threw his body and his stick towards the puck carrier and executed a filthy and perfectly timed flying poke check to deny what looked like a sure goal.

That poke check looked like the biggest robbery of the night until someone not named Shane Owen won Man of the Match.

  • The Devils got their rhythm back

The Devils had plenty of Grade A scoring opportunities through the night and largely dominated possession numbers. For large portions of the game they controlled the puck in the Flyers zone and managed to pepper Owen with a lot of shots. If they faced a different goalie it could have been a very different game.

The signs were there that team have put last weekend behind them and are looking to be trending back towards the win column, but even though offensively they had a good night, Fife played a great team game.

  • Fife’s forecheck will cause a lot of teams issues

If you watch the way Fife presses the Devils in their own zone, the Devils had to keep their composure to not fall into the trap the Flyers were trying to set.

They’d send one guy high to force the man towards the corner where he either has to bank the puck off the glass and out, hope his D partner is available in the other corner to ring the Puck around the boards or force a pass through the slot where the next forward was waiting. Having such an aggressive style meant that even if the play was switched to the other D man, the Flyers would get someone on them quickly, all the while the third forward was patrolling the blueline ready to try and cut out any risky passes and keep the puck in the zone.

That style of forechecking may not have led to a goal last night, but it definitely has the potential to.

  • Bryce Reddick is a different beast from last year

I thought Reddick was robbed of Man of the Match last weekend against the Blaze, but luckily he wasn’t last night.

If you watched his celebration after his goal last night you can see how passionate he is about this team and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.

He’s really improved his awareness since last year, picking his moments to pinch up high better, and all around is playing a much better two way game this year and is being rewarded with some minutes on the power play.

Through 19 games he’s posted 17 points, leading the Devils defence with 14 assists. To put it into context of how much he’s elevated his game, he’s two points shy of his point totals last year, and that was after 64 games.

  • Evan Bloodoff might be my favourite player

I noticed this in the first meeting between the sides in Ice Arena Wales, and I noticed it again last night. Evan Bloodoff is unbelievable.

He might be one of the fastest skaters in the league, but he plays gritty and nasty but by the rules. He’s really not scared to get in the dirty areas and won’t shy away from contact, and he’s got the hands to match to make him a complete player, I’m sure he could sign a contract with any team in the league.

  • The Devils can cope defensively right now

With Ben Blood making the move back to Finland, that leaves a question mark around the Devils defence. They’ve rolled with the same pairings all year long but last night there was a bit of chopping and changing while they prepare for life without him.

Craig Moore didn’t log too many minutes but defensively he was solid when he was back on the blueline after spending most the year as a forward.

Having a guy like Moore gives the Devils that cushion they need while they decide on a potential replacement for Blood, so they’ll still be able to roll with six defensemen even with him gone, so there’s no need for them to rush to find a guy, Moore gives the Devils that time they need to find the right guy.

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