By Oliver Hampson (CHL website)
Heading into the final games of the Group Stage in the 2019/20 Champions Hockey League season, the Cardiff Devils were looking to become just the second British team to make it through to the next round, while the Frölunda Indians came in looking to make it four wins in a row to advance after a poor start to their campaign.
The first meeting ended in a one sided 9-2 victory for Frölunda, and with the second game taking place in Cardiff, the Devils were keen to avoid a repeat of last week. Much like last week, Frolunda struck first and carried a 1-0 lead into the second period. Simon Hjalmarsson find the back of the net with a shot from the back post to put Frölunda up 1-0 ahead with the only goal of the first 20 minutes of play.
The Devils wasted no time grabbing an equaliser coming out in the second period, Blair Riley tied things up on the powerplay early in the second to make it a 1-1 game as he buried a rebound past Johan Mattson less than two minutes into the second. Frölunda would retake the lead midway through the second. Despitte a great block by Sam Jardine, the puck rebounded straight to Anders Grönlund who buried the second opportunity to put the visitors 2-1 ahead which turned into a 3-1 lead a few minutes later as Samuel Fagemo found the back of the net midway through the second.
Cardiff found a response though as they often do in the CHL at home, their longest serving player Mark Richardson floated one through traffic past Johan Matsson to make it a 3-2 scoreline as the team skated four on four late in the second.
With 20 minutes remaining in regulation, Frölunda had all but a fingertip securing their place in the next round and a quick start that saw goals from Max Friberg and a hat-trick goal from Samuel Fagemo put the reigning champions up 6-2 ahead with plenty of time remaining and then a powerplay goal from Hjalmarsson for his second of the night made it 7-2, and with two more goals, including a fourth from Samuel Fagemo, before the game was done it sent the reigning champions on their way to the next round, with four wins on the bounce after a slow start to the campaign.
Photo: Michael Erichsen.