SHEFFIELD Steelers’ defensive frailties led to a 4-2 opening night loss in their Elite League curtain raiser against Cardiff Devils at the Arena on Saturday night.
They were caught on two odd-man rushes after turning the puck over while goaltender John DeCaro had an uncomfortable evening in goal.
Inaccuracy in shooting at the other end was another factor.
Coach Ryan Finnerty said the team had a big task to get both points tomorrow in the return leg in Wales, but he said he was looking for a quick response to the defeat.
Forward Steve Goertzen, who suffered a puck on ankle injury, added the entire focus of the club was now on winning tomorrow.
Drew Fata and Lee Esders scored the two goals for Sheffield.
Cory Pecker assisted on both.
Birbraer, Hill, MacRae, and Davies did the damage for the Devils, who were roared on by a partisan contingent of fans.
Finnerty said: “It was not the night we had planned at all. We came out pretty strong, we took the game to Cardiff without finding that killer pass or shot that would have given us the lead. Poor old Roddy Sarich got caught them, the ice was so soft and he lost control of the puck and the Devils took advantage to take the lead
“I then thought we battled back well, Drew scores a nice powerplay goal and then Esders drives the net and has us ahead. Without playing really well we lead 2-1.
“The Devils got what they deserved in the third period, they were better than us. There top players out played our top players, the big lines out played our big lines as simple as.
“It was unacceptable, they know, I know it and everyone who watched the game knows it. We expect to win here, the pressure is on here to win from game number one
“I saw guys have their worst game so far tonight, you don’t expect that. I’m frustrated and disappointed. On one hand you don’t want to get down after game one but on the other hand we sent a message to every player that every game in the league was hugely important. We through one away tonight”
* Hull Stingrays pushed holders Nottingham Panthers all the way before going down 4-2 in the Challenge Cup at Hull Arena.
*Read a full weekend analysis in Monday’s Star.
*What was your view on tonight’s game?