Gerad Adams’s second trophy in his 12 months in charge at Steelers will have to wait a little longer.
Last night Sheffield lost on home ice, tamely surrendering the Challenge Cup silverware to Cardiff.
A sixth-minute hamstring injury to Tomas Petruska completely neutralised the first line.
Adams says he hoped the defeat would “burn” the players and they can respond by winning the remainder of the programme.
That’s a big ask. If your glass is half full, Steelers remain a point behind League leaders Braehead, with a game in hand.
They have five regular matches left, three of them against Cardiff, where revenge can be gained.
League-wise, it’s England v Wales v Scotland...a fascinating run-in. And Steelers might not freeze as much again as they did yesterday.
Adams had played with distinction and cut his teeth coaching at Cardiff for 11 years. So it was particularly galling to see his side not show up for 50 minutes.
A passionate rendition of two national anthems had set a Play Off-final tone. Cardiff, confident after Saturday’s 12-0 slaughter of Dundee, looked a solid unit.
Defences were on top, although Sheffield gave the puck away on transition too often. On the Power Play Devils Andrew Lord and Joey Martin got close, but there was little to choose between the finalists.
Jeff Legue had returned to Steelers from the EPL for nights like this and he was drafted on the first line, yet the formation was almost invisible in a poor middle period. Legue had taken a slashing penalty and his side paid the price as Lord scored at 21;07. Seventy eight seconds later Chris Culligan tipped in a point shot from Trevor Hendrikx; 2-0.
It was a sign of the times that Steelers’ most dangerous player Rob Dowd broke his stick on a shot.
You need to have warriors to beat Devils especially in a final...and, largely speaking, they were missing in that midlde 20 minutes.
Sheffield threw everything at Devils in the final minutes, but it was too little too late.
At 52;38 Steeler Cullen Eddy had unleashed a piledriver from the blue line to make it 1-2. And the defenceman had the goal at his mercy after that, but fired wide.
Don’t blame him though...this defeat was more to do with the way Devils kept Sheffield’s forwards outside the danger areas.
n On Saturday, Steelers had to overcome a fourth minute goal from Belfast’s Mark Garside. Two goals in 82 seconds gave Sheffield belief, Mathieu Roy and Colton Fretter claiming them.
Mark McCutcheon levelled on 26 minutes after a 3-on-1 breakaway. Fretter put Sheffield back in charge at 42;40.
Steelers needed to close it out, yet Ray Sawada’s goal upset that aspiration. However Forney saved the need for overtime with a last minute decider.