With back-to-back games and victories over their closest rivals in the league this past weekend, Devils’ Layne Ulmer stepped up to help his side earn four valuable points.
The 38-year-old forward put his side ahead in period two during Saturday’s 4-2 win over Belfast, and then had two assists in Sunday’s 5-2 win as the Devils pushed home their advantage in the third period.
“Obviously getting four points against the team placed directly below us is huge for us, and huge for our position in the standings. Points-wise we couldn’t have had a better weekend. In both games we showed how we can play, and showed a lot of character at different times on each day. It kind of proved to us as a team what works, and we’re very positive going forward,” said the Devils’ front-man. “These games are the most fun to play in: the atmosphere is like a playoff game, although of course you know it’s not quite ‘do or die’ like in the post-season, you can feel how into it the crowd are, and you see that every shift means something. You get totally lost in the game with emotion, and afterwards you see how tired and spent everyone is mentally and physically. They’re the best ones to play in, and the ones you remember.”
Last week Devils’ Mark Richardson told us that Ulmer is the kind of guy the team benefits from when they need a big goal or a play. But where does it come from to be that kind of player? “I don’t know, I guess I’ve always loved playing in big games. It’s not that I don’t feel pressure, of course I do, but I love the opportunity to be out there in a big game when it really matters. Everyone gets nervous, but I love the feeling when something is on the line, and being able to go out and give the team that boost that it needs,” said Ulmer. “I don’t think about it really, it kind of happens. Of course any time you score it feels great, and when you do it in a huge game like we had against Belfast it’s a big emotional rush. I love that feeling when you can sense the energy on the bench and in the crowd.”
Sitting nine points ahead at the top, the task for the Devils – apart from to keep going – is to not get carried away. “I don’t want to be the cliché, but we don’t really look at the table and we do just have to go one game at a time. We have a lot of road games coming up with some tough travel, so we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” asserted Ulmer. “This season the league is so much more evened out, and there aren’t really any easy games – especially when you’re on the road. There will be a lot of wear and tear on our bodies, and it’s a big week for us heading in to Sheffield, Nottingham and Fife which are never easy places to go.