Sloppy defending costs Sheffield Steelers at Cardiff Devils

If your team is going to win at Cardiff Devils' rink, you know it will have to be playing its best hockey.

Sunday, 19th December 2021, 10:47 am

Steelers weren't exhibiting their finest skills on Saturday, ultimately losing 5-4 in overtime.

But it is of some solace that despite underperforming in parts, they'd led 2-1 and 3-2 and took home a point that might prove precious come the end of the season.

They may have been outshot 41-31, yet the context is this was only their fourth loss in 17 games.

Aaron Fox admitted his side didn't show the 60 minutes of application required but was also frustrated by the officiating; his side shipping in four times as many penalty minutes.

"I didn't love our game, early. We played pretty loose, kind of up and down," said the coach. "It was a turnover game, both ways. It wasn't the greatest defensive game from both teams.

"I thought our third period was excellent, a good pushback. We got the point we just couldn't find the extra one."

Fox will be examining why, as he put it: "Nothing we were doing was very clean. We weren't as dialed in as we've been. Plays we normally make were just hitting sticks. It was sort of clunky. But we found a way to get a point."

Aaron Fox unhappy with the refereeing. Pic Dave Williams

Fox queried the consistency in the way penalties were handed out.

"I feel like every time we come in this building it is slanted the wrong way for us."

His side had six defencemen and 11 forwards but they had a bit of defending to do in the initial stages with Barry Brust, back after suspension, in charge of the net.

An intelligent pass from Josh Waller set Trevor Cox free at 6:17 and he beat Brust, stick-side.

John Armstrong on target Pic Dave Williams

The visitors had only wait until 13:53 to level the score, through Robert Dowd.

Despite the fact Davey Phillips was in the penalty box, Sheffield took the lead at 21:22. Martin Latal scored his second short-handed goal of the season.

But Steelers were unraveled, even-handed, when a determined Ben Davies made it 2-2 at the Ice Arena Wales.

Dowd turned provider for Sheffield to help John Armstrong regain the lead for Sheffield four minutes later, courtesy of a rebound on the power play.

Justin Hodgman argument pic James Assinder

It was a hugely entertaining middle period, which saw Cardiff claw back again, with Davies' backhand outfoxing Brust and then taking a 4-3 lead through Josh Lammon.

Devils had rattled Sheffield with two goals in 107 seconds just before that second intermission.

Cardiff, who had terminated their employment of ex-Steeler Ben O'Connor two days before the game, had 3,000 fans behind them and it was now an extreme test of character for Fox's men.

Vojtech Polak answered the call with 10 minutes left, tying the battle after a home turnover at 4-4.

But it was not to be.

In overtime, Devils' defenceman Brendan Mikkelson scored to trim the gap between them and Sheffield.