Cardiff Devils 7-3 Sheffield Steelers: The League title now looks impossible for Aaron Fox's off-form men
Sheffield Steelers' 100-day reign at the top of the Elite League ended tonight.
Their place at the summit was ruthlessly seized by Cardiff Devils, who hammered them 7-3 on Friday night.
The EIHL title is Cardiff's for the taking, they are a point clear with three games in hand over Sheffield.
Just as significantly, they are on form, while Steelers have started leaking goals and have lost six out of their last nine matches.
Steelers had come from behind to win at the Viola Arena in January and they found they were facing a similar challenge very quickly - they were behind after two minutes when Stephen Dixon, scored after a play conducted by Joey Haddad and Charles Linglet.
Cardiff were not content with that early lead.
Defenceman Gleason Fournier, leading his team in assists, added another to his tally when he helped Haddad make it 2-0 at 5:46.
Andrew Lord's team, which has a slightly older average profile than Sheffield, had mastered the early phase, doing enough to halt raids from linemates Anthony DeLuca and Marco Vallerand.
Sheffield had lost all but one of their previous four road trips, yet hope arrived in the form of d-man Davey Phillips, he opened Steelers' account at 12:06 with a shot through a screen of players.
While Aaron Fox's men killed a penalty, their good spell ran aground, with Blair Riley making it 3-1 at 14:53.
Yet they dug deep and reduced the margin when DeLuca benefited from a Devils' turnover.
But when Devils' Masi Marjamaki popped home his own rebound, just 37 seconds before the first break, the mountain Steelers had to climb suddenly felt a lot steeper.
Conceding four goals in 20 minutes seemed a sure fire way of NOT winning the League.
And the Welsh fans could have been cheering a fifth straight after the resumption, when a shot pinged back off Tomas Duba's post.
But they didn't have to wait long, Joey Martin easily manoeuvring around the floundering Duba to score.
Sheffield just couldn't contain Fournier and Haddad - both of whom having collected a hat-trick of points.
Lucas Sandstrom and Riley had a flare-up on the boards at 36:52, both receiving a five minute fighting penalty but Sandstrom also suffering a very sore head.
Any suggestion of a Steelers' rally was snuffed out by Evan Mosey, firing home Cardiff's sixth of the night at 45:25.
Cardiff could have taken their foot off the gas - but their seventh of the evening from Riley suggested otherwise.
Duba and his defencemen were demoralised.
And while Sandstrom scored a consolation rebound at 55:13, you could almost sense the EIHL preparing to tie Cardiff ribbons on the season's main trophy.
*The two teams dust themselves down now ahead of Sunday's Challenge Cup Final at the same venue (4pm.)
After this weekend, Sheffield have just five League games left, they face Manchester Storm and Dundee Stars, home and away, finishing off the campaign by hosting Cardiff on March 29.