Fight back not enough in Dingle's final game
Despite a gallant fight back from the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze in the PredictorBet quarter-finals, in the third period of a tense game at Ice Arena Wales, the number one seeds Cardiff Devils found a way to Nottingham and the final-four.
The Welsh side held a 4-2 advantage to begin the clash following the first-leg at the Skydome on Friday.
Ryan Dingle, who prior to the fixture announced his retirement from the sport gave Coventry a much needed lead after just 34 seconds.
Justin Faryna (18.24), his first of a double, grabbed Devils their two goal advantage back before the first period was done (5-3 aggregate).
After killing a number of penalties (Devils going 0-5), Coventry established themselves in the tie cutting the deficit to one, Brett Robinson scoring from Blaze's only powerplay opportunity of the night (24.18). The aggregate score was then tied at 37.42 through Ross Venus, scoring from out wide to force a winner takes all 20 minutes (5-5).
Champions being Champions, it was the Devils who found a way in third. Brit Josh Batch being an unlikely hero (42.47) before Matt Pope all but wrapped up Cardiff’s place in the final four registering for 3-3 on the night and an aggregate of 7-5 (43.26).
Chasing a way to save the season, Kevin Nastiuk was pulled for the extra skater, Faryna scoring a second into the empty net for a final score of 4-3 and 8-5 on aggregate.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "Once you realise your season's done it's not a great feeling but I'm proud of these guys. The last six weeks we were the hottest team in the league and we came out of nowhere to get to this point. I thought we were with them all weekend but credit to them, they are back-to-back champions for a reason and they deserve to go through but I couldn't be more proud of my guys."
On the retiring Ryan Dingle, Stewart commented:
"Dings has a good opportunity back in his home-town that he couldn't pass up. He's been a great ambassador for our club and he's a true professional. He'll be a miss for us and British ice hockey but these decisions have to be made and we wish him all the best."
HC Danny Stewart
With thanks to John Donovan and Ice Time TV.