Arena defeat undermines Smith’s words

Jonathan Phillips for Steelers against Cardiff Devils at the Arena
Jonathan Phillips for Steelers against Cardiff Devils at the Arena
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Steelers’ owner Tony Smith used his programme notes to castigate a minority of fans over their negativity.

He made some fair points - but then for 40 minutes the logic behind his remarks were undermined by his own team against Cardiff Devils last night.

His side were overwhelmed on their own Arena ice, going into the last period 4-0 down.

A gallant last session saw them drag three goals back - they were playing desperate hockey and it was a truly exciting spectacle. But too little, too late.

To keep the fans happy, you must win your home games.

This was the third Arena home game, all defeats.

But at least Coach Doug Christiansen can take comfort for the late fighting spirit his men showed.

Steelers had been under the cosh early on.

Ben Davies, Chris Blight and Mark Smith all had efforts before Mark Richardson put the Welsh ahead.

The D-man skated down Steelers’ right , received a return pass, then buried the puck.

Cardiff’s defence kept Sheffield forwards largely to the outside.

The middle period was a 0-3 disaster.

Drew Fata’s frustration after failing to get a shot in and then feeling he was a cross-check victim at the other end saw him sin-binned with Jonathan Phillips joining him.

On the 5-on-3 Power Play Mac Faulkner shot high across Doyle.

An almost identical situation developed with Tim Spencer and Mark Thomas in the box - Faulkner wrist-shooting a third.

For the first time, Christiansten went ballistic: screaming into the referee’s face, from bench, over his decision-making.

His fury won’t have been improved when Blight scored.

Devils had tied up Steelers forwards and found the net four times.

But Sheffield forced their way back into contention.

Rob Dowd scored on a PP from centre blue line and Gord Baldwin and Meyer all scored from close in.

An unlikely draw suddenly looked likely - but the final hooter saw the Challenge Cup win go the Devils.

Ilpo Salmivirta, the Finnish left winger signed from Rouen, France, scored two assists.

* Steelers had a mass-influx of new faces in pre- season, but it was the ‘old guard’ who pulled out something special at Devils on Saturday with a 4-2 win. Dowd scored twice after Jeff Legue and Fata built up a 4-0 lead by 29;21.

Devils responded with goals from Richardson and Andrew Lord , but the visitors’ defence closed the game down, despite the absence of blueliners Danny Meyers, Chad Langlais and Baldwin serving a 12-minute penalty.