THE Cardiff Devils are heading to Belfast this weekend for two matches against their nearest rivals, the Giants.
The two titans of the Elite League are battling it out for the title, and are set for two clashes — tonight (Friday, February 17) and tomorrow (Saturday, February 18). The Devils are currently on 63 points, three points ahead of the Giants.
The rivals have already gone head-to-head six times this season.
Cardiff won four of those games, including the second-leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final which they won 5-1. This hugely important win meant they proceed to the cup final against the Sheffield Steelers.
However, while the Devils have taken the lead this season, the Giants perhaps have a better overall record.
As of this season, Belfast have six titles — three league wins, one play-off, one Challenge Cup and one British KO Cup.
In comparison, the Devils have just three title wins in total — two Challenge Cup wins and one British KO Cup. However, they have been runner-ups in the league twice, in 2011 and 2016.
Here is a breakdown of the Devils v Giants rivalry:
This season, the Devils have been leading the Giants in number of games won with 30 against the Giants’ 28.
Two of those wins came from last weekend, when the Devils defeated both Coventry Blaze and the Nottingham Panthers.
On Saturday (February 11), the Devils started confidently after Coventry’s scattered defence gave Cardiff’s Gleason Fournier the first goal of the night after a set-up by Layne Ulmer.
The Devils continued the momentum throughout the night, bringing the score to 5-0 after goals by the likes of player-coach Andrew Lord and Layne Ulmer.
However, Coventry Blaze soon found their momentum and with just two minutes left, they had brought the score to 5-3.
For a brief moment, it looked as if Coventry might had been making a comeback. However, after Coventry pulled their goalie, the Devils’ Joey Martin fired the puck into an empty net to make it 6-3.
On Sunday (February 12), the Devils also defeated the Nottingham Panthers 3-0 after goaltender Ben Bowns secured another shutout this season.
The game also saw impressive goals by Cardiff’s Layne Ulmer as well as former Panthers’ player Mark Richardson.
This was the second time in a row the Panthers had left Ice Arena Wales without a point on the board.
Andrew Lord said he was pleased with the team’s game management following the two wins over the weekend and their victory over the Giants in their second semi-final clash.
“I’m very happy. Our team as a whole has got better at understanding the time of the game, the score of the game, the momentum of the game. I think we’ve done a very good job of managing that lately.” Lord said.
The guys have been pretty lethal around the net. They’re playing very solid defensively right now too.”
The Devils will be looking to continue this winning streak as they return to Belfast.