Elite League: Sanford hits late winner as Devils edge out Giants

Belfast Giants lost their second consecutive home game in a 3-2 defeat to the Cardiff Devils.

Evan Mosey's opener and a late Cole Sanford double clinched victory for Cardiff while Kohei Sato and Greg Printz were on target for the hosts.

Pre-match the Giants coach Adam Keefe had said that getting back to playing games has helped the healing process for the sport in the wake of the tragic death of Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson two weeks ago against Sheffield.

While Nottingham are yet to return to competitive action, the Steelers were back playing on Saturday night with a Challenge Cup match at Manchester Storm, which they won 4-1.

Anyone at the SSE Arena looking for less intensity and speed in the game, in the wake of recent events, would have found none. While neck guard protections were evident on some but by no means all of the players, there was little evidence of a drop in physicality in the game.

The Elite League has said it "strongly recommended" the use of neck guards without making it mandatory - while other organisations, such as Ice Hockey UK which controls the GB National sides, have said they will make neck guards mandatory from the start of next year.

The Sheffield coroner Tanya Rawden has called for neck guards to be compulsory in a prevention of future deaths report following Johnson's inquest. The Elite League is working on a response but asking teams not to make any further comment about the issue, a trend which continued post-match this evening.

This was the second meeting so far this season between the two sides who have hoarded the domestic silverware in recent seasons. The Giants took the spoils with a 4-2 win in Cardiff last month but the Devils gained their revenge on Saturday night.

Cardiff withstood an early Giants powerplay opportunity after Mark Richardson was called for tripping, and their netminder Ben Bowns was kept busy in the opening exchanges, padding away a Travis Brown shot from distance and producing a high glove save from a Johnny Curran effort.

Despite a lot of traffic in front of the Cardiff goal in the final two minutes of the first period, the Giants couldn't make it count.

The breakthrough looked to have arrived midway through the second period when fine work behind Bowns' net by Greg Printz set up a goalmouth scramble which ended with several players in the net, the Giants claiming the puck had crossed the line and the goal off its moorings.

After video review, the officials ruled no goal. The Devils then silenced the home crowd with their very next attack, as a Mosey shot had just enough power to beat Tyler Beskorowany, despite the Giants netminder getting something on it.

The Giants equalised five minutes into the third and final period. Bowns could only parry Sean Norris' effort and Kohei Sato pounced on the rebound to score. In a frantic finish, Cardiff regained the lead with five minutes to go through a shot from a tight angle by Sanford, only for the Giants to equalise a second time as Greg Printz deflected in a Charlie Curti pass.

The Devils were not to be denied their road victory, Sanford breaking clear to score a fine solo goal and last minute winner. The Giants next travel to the Guildford Flames on Sunday.