ICE HOCKEY: Sheffield Steelers share spoils with Cardiff Devils

Drew Fata Goal Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils 08/09/12
Drew Fata Goal Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils 08/09/12
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Steelers may have flopped on the opening night of their league campaign - but they came bouncing back last night.

Saturday’s curtain-raiser on a shiny new season is hardly the right time for most of your players to have a stinker.

But Ryan Finnerty’s men showed character to come back, last night, winning in Wales.

So, like the exhibition games of the previous weekend, it’s only travelling Steeler fans who have seen what this year’s team may be capable of.

On Saturday, Devils soaked up pressure and then ruthlesly exploited Sheffield on the counter attack.

Defensively the home side lacked togetherness, offensively they were wasteful.

Some veteran Steelers looked off the pace, while some of the eight new boys were invisible.

Coach Ryan Finnerty acknowledged: “There were offensive breakdowns and you have to have a high support guy coming back. That wasn’t happening. Also we can’t have our D-man being caught and getting beat wide and that happened too many times.

“It could be lack of chemistry. You hope to be ready off the get-go but we do have a lot of new guys and a few line combinations that worked in previous games that didn’t on Saturday.”

Last night, with two of the lines changed, Sheffield showed they did have some decent chemistry, as they displayed in Coventry seven days before.

Sheffield went 3-1 up in the 42nd minute, with goals from Welshman Jonathan Phillips (2) and Cory Pecker.

Devils captain Mac Faulkner’s hat-trick single-handedly dragged Devils back square with eight minutes remaining.

It took penalties to decide matters and Cory Pecker’s winner ensured that Sheffield collected their first points of the new campaign.

On Saturday, Steelers’ first period of the 2012-13 campaign was error-strewn.

Rod Sarich lost possession on poor ice and Max Birbraer rifled in the Arena’s first league goal of the season.

Finnerty’s troops had plenty of shots, but none of the quality required to beat goaltender Phil Osaer.

Their best early chance came on a breakaway but Shawn Limpright’s attempt to lift the puck over Osaer’s and wasn’t clever enough.

A match which had been short of incident flared into life in the second session.

Pecker and Limpright combined behind the net on a 5-on-3 power play to engineer a goal for Drew Fata.

Steelers went ahead in fortuitous circumstances.

Limpright threw over a speculative cross which Lee Esders nudged past Osaer.

Steve Goertzen, hurt by a puck injury to the foot, returned from treatment for a third period which some of the 4,121 crowd wrongly assumed would put right some of the ills of the first two.

DeCaro stopped a Chris Blight breakaway yet the visitors were not to be denied, scoring through Phil Hill.

Finnerty cussed on the bench. He must have forseen what was to happen next.

Devils’ Devin Didiomete proved he is more than just an entertaining Twitter poster by collecting a pass off the boards before brilliantly setting up Stuart McRae for 2-3.

A freak goal from Ben Davies completed the scoring.

Cardiff Devils 3 Sheffield Steelers 4 (On penalties, Sunday)

Sheffield Steelers 2 Cardiff Devils 4 (Saturday)