Finally Steelers are ‘at the races’ after win over Cardiff Devils – giving Sheffield encouragement for the Play Offs

Sheffield Steelers might not be galloping towards the Elite League title this year.

By Bob Westerdale
Saturday, 16 March, 2019, 22:21

But nor are they a "one-trick pony" - in the words of their coach Tom Barrasso.

He led the team to the first win of the season over Cardiff Devils, putting an end to their five-match winning run and presenting a perhaps unexpected obstacle in their progress towards retaining the championship.

Congratulations all round...Steelers v Cardiff

While Steelers have enjoyed some good outings against the other front-runner in the EIHL top-two, Belfast Giants, they had lost all five previous matches with the Devils.

So Saturday's 5-4 home win at Sheffield Arena showed what the team is capable of when they are firing on all cylinders and forensically observing the game plan.

A memorable night was marred only by an injury to Ben O'Connor. They can ill afford to be without his services as the chase for play off qualification enters the home straight.

Barrasso, though, has been left with plenty of positives to reflect on - not least of all four goals from Anthony DeLuca, a player Cardiff just could not tie down. The other strike came from Jonathan Phillips.

Man of the match celebrations for Anthony DeLuca

The coach said the result in itself did not issue a statement other than to say his group "is not a one-trick pony: we have been able to play Belfast hard and we played hard tonight.

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"I think our compete level was high the whole game. We'd talked about it all week, giving ourselves the chance to show them we are a harder-fighting team than we showed in the last two trips in Cardiff.

"We stayed in the fight for 60 minutes” said the coach.

"I really liked the way we skated."

Barrasso said winger DeLuca's finishing was his finest attribute.

"Anthony DeLuca is a goalscorer, he can really shoot the puck.

"If you can get him the puck in good areas, he can get it on the net quickly.

"At the highest levels, the best goalscorers don't have the puck on the stick for very long and that's one of the things he's strongest at."

Barrasso also complimented the work of goaltender Jackson Whistle who faced 50 shots from the reigning champions.

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