Faltering, shut-out Sheffield Steelers will pick themselves up

Sheffield Steelers slipped to their biggest defeat of the season as Cardiff Devils put their title ambitions on hold.
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They were shut out - a unfamiliar feeling this EIHL season - 4-0 at the Vindico Arena, and were second-best in a sometimes stormy encounter.

The travelling support knows the title will still be delivered. They are 10 points clear at the top with seven games left.

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But they won't look upon the midweek upset with any satisfaction at all.

Steelers' coach Aaron Fox said the chance to win the title at the second-placed EIHL team had been lost "because man for man...we were not good enough.

"They out-competed us, out-battled us, they got to the dirty areas.

"We were just a bit off the pace tonight" he said adding that the Challenge Cup final win and two subsequent games had been "a bit of a grind.

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"It looked like a team that was not hungry enough and if you are not going to win those types of battles it doesn't matter how good you are or how well you played its a 60 minute game and we were not there."

Goal celebration for CardiffGoal celebration for Cardiff
Goal celebration for Cardiff

Opposition coach Pete Russell said his side was "pretty dominant."

While it took a lot of hard work and energy to master the champions-elect, his skaters had out-gunned them throughout and "created chaos."

"Sheffield is going to win the league we know that.

"Stats don't lie they have been the best team and congratulations, they will win it for sure unless the roof falls off the house which I don't think it will, they have too much quality."

Battle of Cardiff Bay - won 4-0 by DevilsBattle of Cardiff Bay - won 4-0 by Devils
Battle of Cardiff Bay - won 4-0 by Devils
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Cardiff had hit the back of the Steelers' net after 109 seconds but Matt Greenfield claimed interference and a video review persuaded the officials he was right.

At the 27th minute mark, with Cole Shudra sitting out a roughing call, Sheffield had a couple of shorthanded chances from Mark Simpson and Scott Allen, yet Devils went ahead with a power play goal from Trevor Cox.

The home side then had another goal rubbed out for goalie interference, which the away fans hoped would be the last time they'd need to sweat out the decision-making process.

Sadly the next goal fell to the Welsh. They killed a penalty and found some momentum, Brandon Alderson's marker coming at a bad time for Sheffield, just over a minute from the second interval.

Tussle time during Cardiff v SteelersTussle time during Cardiff v Steelers
Tussle time during Cardiff v Steelers
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At the second interval, Steelers had been outshot 33-22 and needed to find a way past man-of-the-match netminder Ben Bowns.

But Devils dominated with a 2-0 final session, with Jamie Arniel and Joey Martin building up an alarmingly big advantage on the scoreboard.

However, Steelers fans will still hopefully be able to celebrate a championship win this coming weekend.