Sheffield Steelers lose their cutting edge against Cardiff Devils

Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers. Pix courtesy of Helen Brabon
Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers. Pix courtesy of Helen Brabon
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Nobody in the Steelers’ camp will thank me for pointing this out, but there’s a pattern developing. And it’s an ugly one.

When Steelers play their biggest championship rivals, they lose.

Five times, so far, in the League, to be exact.

The last three occasions has seen a 3-2 win on for the title favourites.

All the games have all been close - but they have all gone the way of the Devils.

After each loss Steelers have had their grievances - in the penultimate game they wrongly had a goal disallowed and in Saturday’s showdown they scored a fluke own goal, lost Jesse Schultz to injury and felt Zack Fitzgerald was harshly thrown out of the game.

Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers. Pix courtesy of Helen Brabon

Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers. Pix courtesy of Helen Brabon

While there is merit in the theory that they are low on luck, the fact remains that, with 32 games remaining, Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson has got decisions to make. His side currently lacks a cutting edge.

The forwards will have to find it, or experience would suggest changes will be made.

Devils had dominated the early stages.

But their best chance from Joey Martin from close range was dealt with by goalie Ervins Mustukovs. Sheffield changed the momentum on two power plays punishing Guillaume Doucet infractions, but couldn’t get past Ben Bowns.

Jace Coyle: man of the match, two goals in two games.

Jace Coyle: man of the match, two goals in two games.

A 0-0 period reflected the fact there is little between the sides.

Two minutes into the middle period Steelers took the initiative through a Levi Nelson goal, after approach work from John Armstrong and Jesse Schultz.

But a peculiar own-goal by Steelers, Patrick Asselin getting the credit for Devils, at 29:25 made it an even period 1-1 score. O’Connor belted the puck into the back of Davey Phillips’s leg and in it zipped.

You couldn’t make it up.

The turning-point came at 45;58 Fitzgerald getting a five+game for a check to the head.

Joey Martin connected on the Power Play - a goal that Steelers’ bench contested, saying an interference call on Armstrong had been overlooked.

Jace Coyle made it 2-2 for Steelers at 52.40.

Then Josh Batch scored Devils’ third of the night with seven minutes remaining.

And Steelers were back to square one.