Home comfort helps Devils up to sixth

Ralfs Circenis was named man of the match against Oxford on Sunday. Picture: Dave Chapman
Ralfs Circenis was named man of the match against Oxford on Sunday. Picture: Dave Chapman
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Solent Devils claimed a fantastic double to rise to sixth place in National League south division one.

The Gosport Ice Arena outfit defeated higher-ranked opposition Streatham Redskins and Oxford City Stars last weekend.

Alex Murray’s troops began with a 5-4 defeat of the Redskins on home ice on Saturday.

The Devils, who travel to Wightlink Raiders tonight (8pm), then returned to their Forest Way headquarters 24 hours later to beat Oxford by an identical scoreline.

The south coast side had lost each of four previous clashes with Streatham before last weekend’s showdown.

But their persistence was rewarded in fine fashion this time around.

Richard Brown opened the scoring – tucking home the rebound after Alex Trendall had seen his shot saved by Redskins netminder Will Sanderson.

Richard Facey then fought off three rivals to tee-up George Norcliffe, who managed to spin on the spot and fire home a second.

Facey soon hit the target himself – intercepting a pass and powering a quick wrist shot in the net.

Ralfs Circenis received the Devils’ only penalty of the match when he was punished for delay of the game.

And Streatham made the most of the numerical advantage to pull a goal back through David Savage.

The Solent outfit hit straight back, though, when Circenis returned to the ice to pick out Mitch Murray, who fired first-time under Sanderson’s arm.

And they made the most of an early powerplay in the second period when Facey found Mitch Murray – and he drove the puck home to make it 5-1.

Dominic Hopkins reduced the deficit for the visitors before an injury to Alex Murray – which saw him taken to hospital with a broken jaw – brought a premature end to the period.

The Redskins were now building up some momentum and goals from Steve Fisher and Savage set up a nervous finale.

Savage then had a goal ruled out as netminder Christian Cole suffered interference – and with the Streatham side losing their cool the Devils held on for victory.

The hosts made the perfect start in the clash with the Stars, too, as Mitch Murray fed Andrew Magee to open the scoring.

And before the break, Mason Wild lashed a second home – with a superb first-time strike.

Ondrej Pekarik made it 2-1 early in the second period before Shaun Rudkin and Facey combined to tee-up Magee to double his tally.

A Boris Ruzicka strike and a brace from Pekarik then edged the Stars into a 4-3 lead but the Devils were level 12 seconds into the last period as Alex Cole picked out Mitch Murray.

The two sides then traded penalties before Circenis took advantage of a powerplay to net a superb winner.

Despite losing two players to penalties at the death, the home side held on to complete the win.

After tonight’s clash, the Devils return to the Isle of Wight to take on the Raiders on Saturday (6pm).

They will then bring the curtain down on the season with a home clash against Cardiff Devils on Sunday (7pm).