#2 Cardiff Devils v #8 Coventry Blaze
The Welshmen just edged past the Dundee Stars on Sunday. They netted the couple of goals needed in the last period to progress into the final four 6-5 on aggregate. The seventh seeds exceeded expectations in the Cardiff Arena winning the first-leg 4-1. Andrew Lord’s side lived up to their regular season billing. Andrew Hotham and Joey Martin (the league leaders in assists) set up the goals required to progress.
Blaze became the first eighth seed to knock out the champions and they did so in some style. The Sheffield Steelers were 4-0 down after the opening 25 minutes. The talent shone through and managed to make it respectable clawing it back to 5-3. Coventry made the 90-minute journey to Yorkshire knowing they could get beat by one and qualify for the semis. Even with that safety cushion, it was looking like Chuck Weber’s team were going to miss out. However, like their upcoming opponents, they got the job done in the last period. Scoring twice to level it up at three each.
Devils won six of the eight regular season matchups against Coventry. This includes the one contest at a neutral venue. Cardiff knows how to perform in the cups and that will likely see them edge past the Englishmen.
#4 Nottingham Panthers v #6 Fife Flyers
The Gardiner Conference runners-up beat the two-time reigning champions over the weekend. However, they needed overtime to do so at the Braehead Arena.
After a thrilling Fife comeback in the final 81 seconds of the first leg, the same tense affair played out in the second instalment. Braehead levelled the tie up twice at home with efforts either side of TJ Caig’s strike. The Canadian deservedly won the man of the match with his second and decisive strike in overtime.
Panthers beat out the Belfast Giants to secure home field advantage at the National Ice Centre. Overcoming the fifth seeds 7-4 on aggregate. Nottingham was 3-2 down in the first tie but turned it around late as they took a one-goal lead over to Northern Ireland.
Nottingham and Fife only met four times in the regular season with the home team coming out on top on three of the four occasions. With that in the mind, Corey Neilson’s men will likely reign supreme and go onto the final.
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