Cardiff Fire hosted the London Raiders in cup action for the first time at Ice Arena Wales and skated out as 9-2 winners.
Young goaltender James Whitting made his first start for the Fire between the pipes. James signed for the Fire full time this summer and has been ever present with the team at all games and practice.
London Racers had to win to stand a chance of qualifying for the cup finals weekend held in Cardiff 8th/9th April. But Fire were in no mood to roll over. It took just 46 seconds for Robert Sedlak to open the scoring for Fire. Just 50 seconds after the first goal Alan Armour fired home for Fire’s second goal. The chances came thick and fast for Fire, who started the game at an electric pace. Further goals from David Sadler, Josh Haslam and Alan Armour (again) ended the first period 5-0 to the Fire.
2nd Period started a bit slower for the Fire as the referees started giving themselves something to do. Two goals from Londons Daniel Clayton gave London some hope. Sam Bryant dropped the gloves with Stuart Appleby, something that had been brewing since early in the first period. A scrappy start to the 2nd littered with penalties took the period some time to get going for the Fire, but it was Armour again showing no signs of slowing down with age getting his hat trick goal on 35 mins. This settled the game down for the Fire and the flow and team play came flooding back, 2 more goals in the last 5 mins of the 2nd from Sadler and Christian all but put the game to bed with Fire leading 8-2 going in to the 3rd.
Just the single goal for the Fire in the 3rd period from former Elite League star Sam Smith made the final score 9-2. This result means that Fire top the group and enter the cup weekend (held in Ice Arena Wales 8th/9th Apr) as top seeds.
Sunday night saw the Fire head to a resurgent Swindon to face the Wildcats, boosted with the addition of the OHA hockey academy youngsters. This looked to be a tricky fixture for the Fire with Swindon picking up 3 straight wins against good opposition.
The game started quick with both teams trying to figure each other out as early as possible. It was the ever-young Alan Armour that opened the scoring after 7 mins of play for his 4th goal of the weekend on a Cardiff Fire power-play. Jordon Powell doubled the lead for the Fire on 15 mins ending the period 2-0 to the Fire.
Fire knew that one lapse in concentration could let a good young Swindon team back in the game. The 2nd period started much the same as the 1st with both teams having good chances. Tamas Elias was tenacious in the forecheck and turned the puck over battling hard down low to find Niall Shanahan positioned perfectly in the front of net to Fire home his 2nd goal of the season. At the half way point of the game Swindon found themselves on a power-play and took full advantage Michael Power firing home a rebound to take the score to 3-1 and put Swindon back in the game. Fire were determined not to tie the period and Dave Christian made sure that was not the case with a fine goal to win the period 2-1 and leave the overall score at 4-1 to the Fire.
Fire 2nd game in two days and it could have been forgiven to take the foot off the gas at 4-1. But that was not the case. Fire went on to score 4 more goal in the 3rd period in what was the best period of hockey for the Fire. The goals came from Sam Smith, Armour (for his 5th of the weekend!) Jordon Powell and a power-play effort from Sam Bryant. Swindon did get a 2nd goal on 52mins but the game was well in Cardiff’s favour. Final score 8-2
A Fantastic weekend for the Fire scoring 17 goals in 2 games and conceding only 3. That takes the winning streak to 12 games on the bounce and leaves the Fire as Cup group winners and 5 points clear of Wightlink. Fire now have a break before playing Wightlink in a double points game at Ice Arena Wales on Sat 11th Feb 18:30 face-off. If Fire are to take the winning streak to 13 games then the lead in the League will be 9 points going into the final 5 games of the season.