Devils' early steps to play-offs

Ice hockey
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The Independent Online
Cardiff Devils have made a successful start in their quest to follow up their Superleague success with victory in the end-of-season Championship. Paul Heavey's team followed a 5-2 Group A win at Newcastle with a 6-2 defeat of Ayr Scottish Eagles.

With two of the four teams qualifying for the semi-finals in Manchester later this month, Cardiff already look a fine bet to qualify.

In Sunday's game against Ayr they were boosted by two goals in the first six minutes by Doug McCarthy and Ian Cooper. Although Jamie Steer responded, Vezio Sacratini restored the two-goal cushion on the powerplay in the second session.

Three goals in less than three minutes from Marty Yewchuck and Steve Moria (2) stretched the lead to 6-1, before Steer bagged a late consolation.

In Group B, Nottingham Panthers also made a four-point start. They were rarely stretched in their 5-1 win at Basingstoke Bison and followed that up with a 5-3 defeat of Bracknell Bees.

In the Northern Premier League play-offs, Blackburn Hawks look like making the Championship round after holding Murrayfield Royals to a 4-4 draw while Castlereagh Knights defeated Dumfries Vikings 6-5 with Vasily Vasilenko scoring five of their goals.

In the Premier League Peterborough Pirates ended a 35-game losing streak with a 6-2 win against Telford.

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