Ice Hockey: Keen Cooper too much for baffled Bracknell: Devils deliver the goods

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The Independent Online
THE play-offs for the Heineken Championship at Wembley later this month, and for promotion and relegation between the three leagues, started this week with the Premier Division champions, Cardiff Devils, winning 7-3 against Bracknell Bees.

In fact, the win was more one for Ian Cooper than for Cardiff. Just back from the World Championships in Eindhoven he showed no signs of weariness, scoring five of the goals - beginning with a backhand shot in the opening minute and completing the scoring with two minutes to go.

Nottingham Panthers also had a successful evening, beating Billingham Bombers 8-3, with Steve Moria of Blackburn Blackhawks playing for Panthers in place of Chris Kelland, who picked up an injury in Eindhoven. Moria opened the scoring after 10 minutes, and Panthers were well on top at the start of the final period, leading 7-3 thanks to two Terry Kurtenbach goals either side of the interval.

Durham Wasps may be playing to maintain senior status rather than for a place at Wembley, but they demonstrated the gulf between the Premier Division and the First with a 13-5 drubbing of Romford Raiders. Basingstoke Beavers emphasised their superiority with a 10-4 victory over Swindon Wildcats, who failed to capitalise on the chance to convert power play opportunities into goals as Beavers ran into rare penalty trouble (47 minutes in all).

A goal in overtime by the defenceman, Ulf Samuelsson, enabled the Pittsburgh Penguins to beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Wednesday and so record their 15th successive win, equalling the National Hockey League record set by the New York Islanders in the 1981-82 season. The Penguins, who have outscored opponents 82-42 during the run, will seek a new mark against the New York Rangers tonight.