Challenge Cup semi-final: Cardiff secure 8-4 aggregate win over Belfast

Giants' Challenge Cup hopes ended by Cardiff Devils

Holders Cardiff Devils secured a place in the Challenge Cup final as a 3-1 semi-final second-leg win over Belfast completed a 8-4 aggregate success.

After a goalless first period, Mike Forney gave the Giants hope of overturning the first-leg deficit as he put the home side 1-0 up.

However, Leigh Salters levelled before Carl Hudson and Joey Haddad added further goals for the Devils.

The win keeps Cardiff on course for a league and cup double.

Belfast, meanwhile, will look to the end-of-season play-offs as their only remaining hope of winning silverware this season.

Belfast Giants player Mike Forney
Mike Forney's goal gave the Giants hope but Cardiff fought back to clinch a place in the Challenge Cup decider

The Elite League leaders will almost certainly face Nottingham in the final on 6 March after the Panthers crushed Sheffield 8-0 in the first leg of the second semi-final on Tuesday night.

Looking to close the two-goal deficit from the first leg, the Giants created early chances but Cardiff keeper Ben Bowns made smart saves to deny Forney and Craig Peacock.

After the Giants survived penalties to Mike Wilson and Darryl Lloyd late in the opening period, they took the lead three minutes into the second period as Forney beat Bowns.

However, Cardiff restored their two-goal aggregate advantage within five minutes as Salters netted a powerplay effort.

After Lloyd was thrown out of the game for checking from behind in the final period, Hudson put Cardiff ahead on the night before Haddad's late empty-net goal as Giants keeper Stephen Murphy watched on.