Sheffield Steelers 5-4 Cardiff Devils

Sheffield opened their regular League season campaign with an exhilarating 5-4 overtime victory over Cardiff Devils.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 7:14 pm

Evan Mosey scored the late, late winner to send 6,380 fans home happy.

Steelers had trailed 2-4 at one stage but clawed back in Herculean-style.

Devils had been on the ice since August, were much more match-fit, and had former Steelers' favourite Ben O'Connor in their line-up.

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Some Arena fans, inexplicably, booed O'Connor on his return.

He had moved on after failing to agree terms with Sheffield - is that really a reason to boo him?

Sheffield's management had been expecting O'Connor, who was one Steelers' top 10 players in terms of appearances before joining Cardiff in the Summer, to try to "stick it" to them.

And the GB defenceman was on the ice when the opening goal fell to his side - scored, ironically, as a former Devil in the Steelers' line-up, Mosey, was sitting out a penalty. Brodie Reid was the man who broke the deadlock, at 17:12, shooting past Rok Stojanovic, chosen again over Barry Brust in net.

Before that strike, it had been tough to guess who might forge ahead.

Devils, who had squeezed out an overtime win over Guildford on Saturday, had wasted the clearest opportunity, Reid firing wide of the post when it seemed easier to score.

Daine Todd, playing O'Connor's old role for Sheffield, had prompted offence ably from the back, and John Armstrong looked odds on to finish a break down the right wing. Travis Oleksuk had dished up a great chance for Robert Dowd but it was Reid's effort that separated the clubs at the first interval.

What had been a very good game improved further still with four goals in six minutes.

John Armstrong crashes into the boards. Pic by Dean Woolley

Marco Vallerand, who had just delivered a big hit on Stephen Dixon, was poleaxed en route to goal - he was just getting up when Brendan Connolly passed for Keaton Ellerby to equalise.

Sheffield took the lead when Jonathan Phillips nimbly penetrated the visitors' defence and set up Mosey.

But the home advantage was short-lived. Cardiff rapidly outmanned the home defence, Justin Crandall making it 2-2 at 24:28.

And a power play opportunity saw the Welsh execute their third of the night, Dixon the scorer.

Ben O'Connor for Cardiff by Hayley Roberts

Sheffield were often frustrated by Devils' rugged resistance, Justin Hodgman smashing his stick against the plexiglass when the officials overlooked a challenge on him.

Cardiff had enjoyed a 100% winning streak in their four pre-season games, which had come after playing Champions League hockey in August, so you'd have expected them to close the deal in the last period.

Steelers had Stojanovic to thank for twice stopping Cole Sanford, but at 43:28, Sheffield were again out-numbered in their own zone and Reid fired under the goalie's pads for 2-4.

Devils' fans were chanting "Is this a library" as their team neutralised the home support.

They should have kept quiet, perhaps, because Steelers league-debutant Martin Latal fired home from the left circle, for 3-4.

Had Steelers, drained as they must have been, anything left in their legs?

Steelers lay siege to Devils' goal

Well, the influential Latal certainly had. He skated hard and fired a puck diverted into the net by Armstrong to tie the game at 57:18.

In overtime, Mosey banged in the winner at 63:15, with Latal again playing a huge part.

Steelers had swept to an impressive 8-3 win at Manchester Storm in the Challenge Cup opener on Saturday, Anthony DeLuca, Marco Vallerand and Robert Dowd all enjoying a three-point personal haul, with Evan Mosey (2) Tanner Eberle (2) and Brendan Connolly also scoring. Steelers banged om three goals in the last five minutes.