Cardiff Devils 2
Sheffield Steelers 3
(Penalty shoot out, League, Sunday)
Coventry Blaze 2
(Saturday, Challenge Cup)
MIKE Ramsay snatched a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory for Steelers in last night’s Elite League ice hockey match at Cardiff Bay Arena.
Steelers held out against intense pressure to force the shoot-out, having led 2-0 at one stage.
Ramsay, Steve Birnstill and Jeff Legue all missed penalties in the first round, while Cardiff’s Max Birbraer, Jeff Pierce and Stuart MacRae also failed to score.Then Ramsay netted with his second attempt, while Birbraer missed to leave Sheffield celebrating victory.
Steelers took a grip on the match with two goals in less than a minute during the second period.Rod Sarich was first to strike after Ramsay and Ashley Tait surged clear. Only a solid pad save by Stevie Lyle denied Ramsay a goal, but Sarich was skating hard in support and steered the puck into an empty net first time.
Only 41 seconds later Steelers were 2-0 ahead. This time it was Lee Esders scoring his first goal for the club.
Devils bench coach Neil Francis immediately called a time-out and there was a big reaction from the home team, who stepped up their physical approach.
Hill scored for Cardiff on 31-25 and that signalled a spell of Devils pressure. Sheffield, with three key players ruled out, held on grimly.
Imports Neil Clark and Chad Huttel both missed the match because of injuries, while Welsh forward Jonathan Phillips is still recovering from a knee operation.
Steelers came out for the third intent on maintaining their lead with goalie John DeCaro again a key figure against the power and passion of Devils on their small ice surface. Stuart MacRae set up Brad Voth and DeCaro was quick to cover up and block the close range shot.
Within seconds Tom Squires skated clear, one-on-one with home netminder Lyle. Squires sent Lyle the wrong way, but the goalie threw out a leg to block the shot.
It was fast and furious with both teams giving everything. Devils had more of the puck and more of the chances, but Steelers refused to buckle.
Hill smashed in a shot which rebounded off a post, while a goal-judge signalled another shot had gone in. Devils fans celebrated, but referee Tom Darnell played on without consultation.
It was gritty and intense from a Steelers team who gave it everything they had.
Colt King rescued his team when Jeff Pierce had a clear sight of goal close in and was charged out of the way. That cost King a two-minute stay in the penalty box, but it had looked a certain goal until his intervention.
Devils did hit the roof of the net with just under five minutes left when Max Birbraer fired home, but wild scees of delight among home fans and players were cut short when the effort was disallowed because of a player in the crease.
Sheffield finished the match on a penalty kill with Sarich in the penalty box on a 2+2+10 call for attempted butt ending. Within seconds Cardiff levelled the scores.
Scott Dobben scored the powerplay goal to force the match into overtime.
With 13 seconds of overtime left Devils D-man Chris Frank was thrown out on a five minutes plus game penalty for slashing, but Steelers didn’t have time to make that count and the match was decided on penalties.