Ice Hockey: Stefan the source of Jets' propulsion: Slough spring surprise

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THE traditional curtain-raiser to the season, the Benson and Hedges Cup, saw Cardiff Devils, last season's defeated finalists, face an uphill struggle to even qualify from their five-strong group, writes Steve Pinder.

The Devils' opening match was away to Slough Jets, a team from a division below them. The Jets, inspired by their veteran captain, Gary Stefan, held the Devils 1-1 at the end of the first period and then buried them with a 5-0 second period for a 7-4 win, a victory that could prove to be the upset of the season.

With their tails between their legs, the Devils returned to Wales to take on Basingstoke Beavers, who were on a high after their 8-6 victory over Bracknell Bees. The Beavers trailed 4-2, but rallied to

5-5 with a Kevin Conway goal five minutes into the last period. Russ Parent's shot from the half-way line with four minutes to go looked to be the winner until Doug McEwen rescued a point with less than a minute to go.

Tony Hand scored three goals and assisted in four others as Edinburgh Racers beat Blackburn Hawks 8-3. The Racers' import Ivan Matulik, who was signed from Sheffield Steelers, also made a telling contribution.

Durham Wasps are coached by Rocky Saganiuk, who tooks Racers to last year's final. He could be there again. His new imports Bob Berg and Chris McKenzie gelled well with Darren Durdle, signed from Bracknell, as Wasps gave the Whitley Warriors' netminders Kevin Dean and Peter Graham a torrid time in a 17-goal shutout.

Results, Sporting

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