Sheffield Steelers’ five match winning streak has come to an abrubt end.
Cardiff came to Sheffield for the second time in recent weeks and dominated, winning 5-2.
The Welsh were clearly smarting after being beaten 5-4 by Steelers on Saturday and deserved Sunday’s victory. They had been without regular goalie Ben Bowns, with 25-year-old Whitley Bay-born Thomas Murdy in his place.
Arena fans expected Steelers to put the second-stringer under pressure. Yet Devils protected him brilliantly and the visitors cruised to a 2-0 lead.
Zack Fitzgerald took an unnecessary hooking penalty but Steelers killed the penalty. However, Devils maintained the same attacking focus as they had on the PP and took the lead in an unorthodox way.
Andrew Hotham seemed to have run out of options for a pass coming from behind the net, so backhanded towards goalie Ervins Mustukovs, the puck bouncing off him and in.
Another bad penalty was the last thing Steelers needed, but Andreas Valdix took a crosschecking call on the boards. Twelve seconds later, unmarked Mark Richardson flashed past Mustukov’s blocker, for 0-2.
After Devils killed another penalty they were again in the driving seat, Scott Bentivoglio beating Guillaume Desbiens to a loose puck.
Fitzgerald injected some passion into the home team with a mid-ice fight with Mark Louis, the latter falling heavily head-first on to the ice. It seemed to work with d-man Davey Phillips skilfully setting up a goal for Rob Dowd.
Devils weathered the storm and emerged to score twice in five minutes.
An exquisite pass from Gleason Fournier set up a play for Sean Bentivoglio to score and it was 5-1 at 39;45 when Guillaume Doucet beat Mustukovs.
Frustration was written all over the home side, Mike Ratchuk blew his lid on the bench and Andreas Valdix blasted a good chance miles over the bar.
Sheffield had nothing to lose but to go for it in the last 20 minutes.
And when Matt Mayers was sin-binned for decking Ratchuk, Dowd stepped up to pot his second of the night.
Cardiff though were comfortable behind a tight forecheck and they were winning individual battles too.
They killed the home crowd off...and took the points away.
Sunday 16th October
Dundee Stars 3 Manchester Storm 2
Edinburgh Capitals 4 Coventry Blaze 1
Nottingham Panthers 1 Belfast Giants 2 (OT)
Sheffield Steelers 2 Cardiff Devils 5
Challenge Cup Group A
Fife Flyers 2 Braehead Clan 6