Ice Hockey: Cup agony as Steelers fall on goal difference

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CARDIFF Devils are through to the Challenge Cup semi-finals after a night of high drama at Cardiff Bay Arena.

Sheffield Steelers were edged out on goal difference and their dream of a trophy treble is over.

They are now chasing the Elite League title and Play-offs Championship.

Devils and Steelers slugged it out over 60 minutes and the home team go into the last four on goal difference.

These two teams finish level on points in their group, with Cardiff going forward to a two-leg semi-final tie against Belfast Giants, while Braehead Clan and Nottingham Panthers will meet in the second semi.

Cardiff’s Big Blue Tent was packed with an attendance of 2,300 for the crucial group match.

The atmosphere was at a high - and home fans stayed to cheer their team off the ice after a big night in the Bay.

The goals were scored by captain Stuart MacRae (2), Kenton Smith and Jeff Pierce, while Jeff Legue (2), Colt King and Mike Ramsay netted for Steelers.

There were five goals in eight second-half minutes as Steelers led 3-2, but they couldn’t hold on to that slender advantage.

The hits were huge and Cardiff had Birbraer thrown out on a five minutes plus game penalty for checking from behind.

Mark Thomas was one of several Steelers players who launched themselves at Birbraer and he, too, was thrown out on 50:42.

Scarcely had tempers calmed from that goal when Devils took the lead, MacRae scoring his second of the game on 51:50.

Still there was more drama to come and Steelers made it 4-4 with more than six minutes left. Ramsay scored on 53:26 and tension on the ice and in the stands was at fever pitch.

* Scorers: Cardiff Devils: Kenton Smith 1+1; Jeff Pierce 1+1; Stuart MacRae 2+1; Scott Matzka 0+1; Max Birbraer 0+2; Scott Dobben 0 + 1. Sheffield Steelers: Jeff Legue 2+0; Colt King 1+1; Mike Ramsay 1+3; Matt Stephenson 0+3; Ashley Tait 0+1..

* Penalties in minutes: Devils: 2+8+43 = 53. Steelers: 6+6+29 = 41.