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Ice hockey : Early effort profits Cardiff

After a month of nailbiting fixtures, the Superleague games at the weekend saw the closest margins of defeat as Cardiff Devils beat Manchester Storm 5-2 and Nottingham Panthers overcame Newcastle Cobras 3-1, writes Steve Pinder.

Devils' finishing in the first 20 minutes was the answer. With a one shot on goal advantage of 16 to 15, John Finnie scored four times for Cardiff while Storm's lone success came from Craig Woodcroft.

The second period saw George Swan increase Devils' lead and Storm fall out of contention with two players awarded 10-minute penalties and Martin Smith a game misconduct. Their sole consolation was another Woodcroft goal. The third period was scoreless but the margin of 5-2 could have been greater if Devils had not lost Steve Thornton in the first with concussion and Steve Moria in the second to a knee injury.

Coupled with their 4-0 win over Ayr on Saturday, with Stevie Lyle deflecting 29 shots for the shut-out, Devils maintain their lead, followed by Sheffield Steelers four points behind in what is now a two-team race.