Ice Hockey: Cardiff's Devilish display loosens Sheffield Steelers' grip on title
League leaders Cardiff widened the gap over second-place Sheffield to six points with a punishing victory in Wales.
Questions arise yet again over the consistency of Steelers’ goalie Marek Pinc, who was hauled off after conceding six.
The Welsh are expert are dominating the small, slushy rink they call the Big Blue Tent - and their mastery of those conditions could go a long way towards winning the title currently owned by Sheffield. Steelers’ grip on the crown has loosened but they have two games in hand.
Devils staked their fourth straight win after taking a lead when Czech winger Tomas Kurka beat Pinc.
Steelers, without Tyler Mosienko and Rob Dowd,conceded another while Jace Coyle sat a slashing minor.
New Devils defenceman Gleason Fournier, once in Detroit Red Wings system, did the damage.
While the ice had been its customary watery self, the icy-cool ruthlessness of Devils’ shooting had been decisive. Steelers were hit by a 5-on-3 penalty, which Devils mercilessly executed, within nine seconds, through Guillaume Ducet.
Few teams come back with anything from Wales and fewer still from three down.
Jeff Legue seemed to start the process with a Power Play strike at 36;39 - but then came a cave-in. Joey Haddad (PP) and Jack Morissett (short handed) scored in 56 seconds of each other to put the Welsh 5-1 in charge.
Pinc was dumped when Haddad added his second, 38 seconds into the last period.
The switch brought new energy, with Fitzgerald and Ryan Hayes both netting in 74 seconds. But any chance of a comeback was squashed by Chris Culligan’s final goal.
n Steelers and Panthers played out a nine-goal thriller, watched by 7,342 fans on Saturday.
A PP goal from Mosienko put Sheffield ahead at 3;02 but Logan MacMillan equalised at 5;18. Luke Ferrara brought the Arena to its feet with a goal at 8.40 - the young Brit exploiting an error by goalie Shane Madolora.
Stephen Schultz levelled, tipping in Andy Bohmbach’s rifle shot and Panthers took the lead for the first time at 20:50 with Pinc beaten at the near post by Paul Swindlehurst .
Mathieu Roy made it 3-3, slotting home the puck after a shot from Hayes.
But defensively, Steelers let themselves down allowing Juraj Kolnik to convert at 26;51.
Hayes had a great chance to score his first goal on a breakaway, but was denied by Madolora.
He wasn’t disappointed for long, his shot deflected home at 33;59.
Cullen Eddy’s third point of the night, a one-timer through the goalie’s legs, gave Steelers a 5-4 win.
Sunday 17th January
Cardiff Devils 7 Sheffield Steelers 3
Coventry Blaze 4 Dundee Stars 3 (OT)
Manchester Storm 6 Fife Flyers 7 (PS)