Almeida delivers overtime winner in Cardiff
American forward Barry Almeida grabbed a dramatic overtime winner for the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze with just 13 seconds to go at Ice Arena Wales for a final score of 3-4.
With the return of defenceman Shawn Boutin from injury, Coventry went into the game at full strength. Player/coach of Cardiff Andrew Lord choosing to take the bench, also with a full quota.
The Devils came out strong in the early going creating two early 2-on-1 opportunities in the opening couple of minutes. Brian Stewart in the Blaze net though was not to be beaten as his side settled into the game.
Robin Bergman made the breakthrough at 15.32, stealing the puck on the centre-line, showing excellent speed and hands to beat Great Britain International Ben Bowns in the Cardiff net one-one-one (0-1).
Bergman also played a crucial part as Blaze doubled their lead at 18.18. Winning a puck race, the Swede's drop-pass picked up by the club's top-point scorer, Brett Robinson who drove to the net and finished well (0-2).
The home side got on the board in front of a sold-out crowd at 21.52. Andrew Hotham's shot sneaking through Stewart's pads for Patrick Asselin to tap home (1-2).
Blaze though stretched the lead to two again on 33.49. Robinson with a face-off win, the returning Boutin shooting the puck on net with Captain Jordan Pietrus getting a touch for 1-3.
On their third powerplay opportunity of the night, Andrew Hotham grabbed a second for the Welsh side, taking advantage of a rebound off a Blaze body at 37.11 (2-3).
Into the third period and it was Andrew Hotham again on the score-sheet to tie the game 3-3 (41.48).
There was no further scoring in the 60 minutes, with both teams taking a point the game went to sudden-death 3-on-3 overtime.
With both goalies standing strong, it took 4.47 minutes for the game-winning-goal. With just the 13 seconds left, Barry Almeida went one-one-with Bowns, beating the Cardiff keeper high for a final score of 3-4.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "I'm happy for these guys. We played a great first period and put ourselves in a good position. Obviously we got caught up in some penalty trouble in the 2nd and credit to Cardiff as they put some pressure on us to create that. In the third we bent a little bit but found a way not to break. Again, some penalties put us under pressure but we had some great kills that got us some momentum back and it was a great finish in OT. We want to follow up tomorrow now. Our fans were fantastic tonight and I know there is a big crowd coming tomorrow, and the noisier the better. I can't emphasise how much it means to me and the guys to have everyone with us."