Saturday 9th July saw the Buccaneers travel down to Cardiff to take on old friends and rivals, the Cardiff Demons. Off the back of wins against Sheffield Ice Tigers and Don Valley Vikings, the Buccs knew the Demons were going to be an entirely different proposition and took a strong team down to Wales.
Under the bright lights of the new Ice Arena Wales, the game got underway and it was the visitors who started stronger with shots raining down on Mann in the home goal straight from the off. It only took until 6.10 for the first goal of the game and it came somewhat against the run of play as the Demons took the lead through Jones as he won a goalmouth scramble to force the puck past Rob Tomlin.
The Buccaneers weren’t to be deterred though and carried on pressuring the Cardiff goal. Eventually it paid off as Mark Jenkins got the Buccs opener from Dadswell.
Less than a minute later, the Buccs took the lead – a quick breakout pass from the Buccs defence sent Dadswell down the wing who fed Higson in the slot and he made no mistake. Then, with 1.37 left in the first period, an insurance goal for the Buccs came in the form of Darren Shaw who is enjoying a fine run of form.
With the Buccs up 3-1, the goal was to see out the period and re-group. Unfortunately, the Demons had other ideas and after two lapses in concentration in the Buccs defence, Nash and Poulton took advantage to tie the score at 3 going into the first period break.
The Buccs were rocked after conceding two late goals and needed to start the second period well. However it would be the Demons who were next to light the lamp, Schofield with an unassisted marker. Just over 3 minutes later the Demons opened up a two goal lead, Poulton getting his second of the game from Smith and Nash. Despite not playing poorly, the visitors were just struggling to get the puck past Mann in the Demons goal in the second period. A string of fine saves preserved the Demon’s lead until Walsh managed to fire through from the high slot. 5-4 Demons and the Buccs were back in the game. Some good end-to-end hockey followed but a quick double from Smith and Schofield gave the Welsh side a 7-4 lead going into the break.
Going into the third period down by three, the Buccs knew they needed to come out hard and they did. Mann was easily the busier of the two netminders all night but he stood tall and had an answer to almost everything that the visitors threw at him. The Demons completed their scoring for the night mid-way through the 3rd and arguably put the tie beyond reasonable doubt. The Buccaneers did hit back with two goals from Price and Higson but ultimately it was too little, too late. Final score Demons 8-6 Buccaneers.
MVP for the Buccaneers was Mark Higson. Demons netminder Mann was a very deserving winner of the MVP for the home team.
The Buccaneers are back in action on Saturday 16th July at 6pm in what is likely to be a tough game against Flintshire Phantoms.