Ice Hockey: Cup now the best bet as Steelers title hopes fade

Steven Goertzen - Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils 26/01/13
Steven Goertzen - Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils 26/01/13
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Edinburgh Capitals 2 Sheffield Steelers 3 (Overtime, Sunday)

Steelers 5 Cardiff Devils 4 (Saturday)

SHEFFIELD STEELERS are in cup knockout competition on Wednesday as they focus on what may be their best chance of lifting some silverware this season.

Sheffield tackle Dundee Stars in the second leg of the Challenge Cup quarter final after losing the first contest 4-2, last week.

Last night in League play, at second from bottom Edinburgh Capitals, Sheffield took the lead and things looked promising.

And for the second time this weekend, it was Simon Ferguson capitalising on the first big chance of the game, netting a rebound on the Power Play, Jeff Legue playing a part.

But Edinburgh, shut out 5-0 at Belfast Giants the previous night, equalised at 23.28 and ensured their visitors could not improve on the 1-1 scoreline.

It was becoming a tense affair, with both sides failing to impose themselves.

But Jason Hewitt, the gritty, bull-nosed forward not known for his goals, put Steelers in the driving seat.

It wasn’t enough to complete the game in regular time though, as the Scots tied the game 2-2 with 15 seconds remaining. Steelers, playing their game in hand over second place Belfast, weren’t to be denied, though.

Winger Tylor Michel scored in overtime to claim a four-point weekend.

But with Nottingham Panthers winning in Cardiff, the League title is looking a very remote possibility with every passing weekend.

Ryan Finnerty’s team have, at several stages this season, been guilty of not killing off teams that they have largely dominated.

Such was the tale of Saturday night.

Despite having the lion’s share of possession, outshot Steelers still lost the lead three times and had to rely on a defenceman for two of their goals.

And the eventual 5-4 score line was a little close for comfort.

They went ahead on 11 minutes through Simon Ferguson, but Canadian centre Mac Faulkner (15.46) scored short handed to cancel it out.

Drew Fata scored on the Power Play (18.02) but Josh Batch equalised (21.41.)

And Ashley Tait’s 32nd minute goal was similarly matched by one from Phil Hill, less than a minute later.

It was only at this point that Sheffield seemed to put some distance between them and the fourth-placed team that Jonathan Phillips admitted had “had our number this season.”

Fata, again and an empty netter from Michel while Legue was serving a late minor penalty, made it a rosy looking 5-3 by 58;51.

But with Steve Goertzen also taking a penalty Faulkner got his second, thankfully with only 14 seconds left on the clock. It put, on the night, a nine point gap between third place Sheffield and the fourth placed Devils.