ICE HOCKEY: Bentivoglio hat-trick downs Belfast Giants and secures Conference Title for Cardiff Devils
CARDIFF DEVILS 4 BELFAST GIANTS 3
The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to a 4-3 defeat against the Cardiff Devils on Saturday in Wales. A hat-trick from Sean Bentivoglio ensured the Elite League champions took the win in the first of two games between the sides this weekend.
The win claimed the Erhardt Conference title for the Cardiff Devils.
It was the hosts who took an early lead in Cardiff with Sean Bentivoglio firing the puck high into the Giants net from the blueline after 53 seconds, assisted by Gleason Fournier and Mark Louis.
The Giants fought back, and at 12:17 they were back on level terms thanks to Chris Higgins. Blair Riley received the puck from Brandon Benedict and picked up his own rebound, found Higgins who slotted the puck into the Devils net with his back turned to goal.
Bentivoglio scored both his and his team’s second goal of the game 10:40 into the middle period, assisted by Layne Ulmer and Patrick Asselin.
However yet again the Giants tied things up, this time Jim Vandermeer grabbed the goal with a shot from the blueline, assisted by Jerome Leduc and Colin Shields at 32:30.
Into the final period and the Cardiff Devils got their third go-ahead goal of the game with Bentivoglio completing his hat-trick at 44:11, assisted by Gleason Fournier.
Matthew Myers extended the hosts lead to 4-2 at 55:43, assisted by Danny Kearney and Guilliaume Doucet. David Rutherford pulled one back for the Giants at 57:57 with a finish from close range, assisted by Matt Towe and Jerome Leduc.
However the Devils fended off the late Giants pressure to take the win, 4-3, in the first to back-to-back games between these two sides.
The Giants finish the regular season on Sunday with away against the Cardiff Devils. After the visit to Wales, the Playoffs begin. The Giants home Playoff quarter final will take place on Saturday 1st April, face-off 7pm, with the opponent still to be determined.