Steelers home victory can’t paper over cracks

Equaliser: Jason Hewitt, whose snapshot put Steelers back in it last night.       Picture: rik rayner
Equaliser: Jason Hewitt, whose snapshot put Steelers back in it last night. Picture: rik rayner
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STEELERS are pondering the possibility of extending their roster with a spare import and an extra Brit.

The scale of Saturday’s defeat at Cardiff suggested the side did not have any depth when injuries strike and players are out or skating while hurt.

Last night, they went behind twice on home ice to the same opponents, but a late rally gave them a welcome, if slightly flattering victory.

The club could now go down the road of having an 11th import, (10 is the maximum for any one match sitting one out for rotation or form reasons.)

The Elite side has considered trying to obtain the services of Steeldogs talented Latvian centreman Janis Ozolins, when available, and have an option of whether to keep loanee Warren Tait, who filled in for injured Jonathan Phillips.

Last night, Steelers, didn’t have much early jump in their legs, which was surprising considering the events of the night before.

Devils went ahead on their first attack, exposing a tame rearguard and absent zone coverage by the home side, Sam Smith scoring.

With some comfort, Devils were the superior side and there were some alarming give-aways by the likes of Ashley Tait and Chad Huttel, although Huttel came close to equalising.

The champions, with two Brits out injured, Matt Stephenson barely skating and Rod Sarich carrying an injury, looked slow in thought and deed.

Warren Tait and Sarich skated into each other as the mistakes continued.

But the game seeemed to turn when Ryan Finnerty came straight out of the penalty box on a breakway and backhanded top-shelf past Stevie Lyle. Five minutes later Sheffield were in front for the first time of the weekend, Neil Clark embarassing Lyle by tucking home his own rebound.

But Steve Birnstill was exposed on his own by two advancing forwards and Phil Hill levelled.

And an unimpeded skate down the right flank allowed Jeff Pierce in for 3-2 to Devils.

Steelers need a big final period - and they got it.

They had to wait until the last eight minutes to equalise through a smart Jason Hewitt snapshot, but within 70 seconds they had gone ahead through Mike Ramsay.

An empty-net goal saw Sheffield celebrate a fifth - and Devils players were left shaking their heads.

Steelers’ win-dominated early-season hubris was sharply dented with a big shut out loss in Wales on Saturday.

It was all over in the first period. Hill scored twice against his old club before Pierce got another on a 5 on 3 powerplay. Brad Voth signalled he is not a spent force by tagging the last goal on 43 mins.

While Steelers had 34 shots on Lyle, most were unconvincing efforts and they looked lightweight against Paul Ragan’s club.