Elite Ice Hockey League
Sheffield Seelers 6-2 Cardiff Devils
The Sheffield Steelers will go into their remaining games full of confidence after easing past a tired looking Cardiff Devils side. The Welsh side came into the game sitting top of the table and with the knowledge they had recently beaten the Steelers to win the Challenge Cup. With some vocal fans making the journey across the border they seemed confident of a victory to help them on their way to secure the league title.
Sheffield were keen for revenge it seemed and the game got off to a feisty start with some big hits and what looked to be strong words exchanged by players from both sides. Neither team could capitalise on their early chances despite goalmouth scrambles at each ends.
On the midway point of the first period Sheffield’s mounting pressure paid dividends as they found the breakthrough needed. Robert Dowd hit the back of the Devils net after following up on Mike Ratchuk’s wide shot to give the Steelers the lead. The first period ended 1-0 to Sheffield, a fair score line after a tense opening 20 minutes.
Whatever was said in the Devils dressing room during the break seemed to work though as the visitors drew level through Andrew Lord, scoring after just 2 minutes following a scramble in front of Sheffield’s goal. An almost identical goal at the other end by Guillaume Desbiens saw Sheffield go back in front and take a 2-1 lead.
The game became increasingly aggressive as Cardiff looked to be getting more and more frustrated, it all kicked off between Desbiens and Cardiff’s Denny Kearney, the latter being sent to the penalty box. Sheffield couldn’t counter on the power play and the roles reversed as the Devils gained a power play themselves after Steelers’ Geoff Walker served 2 minutes for hooking. Cardiff however did take advantage of having the extra man as Mark Richardson equalized to make it 2-2 but Sheffield responded immediately as Levi Nelson scored and the Steelers went into the break with a one goal advantage, leading 3-2.
It wasn’t until halfway through the final period that Sheffield began to extend their lead against the league leaders. Sheffield had plenty of possession and Andreas Valdix produced the goods. Just three minutes later and Sheffield had the puck in the back of Cardiff’s net again and what a sweet strike it was by Ben O’Connor to make the score 5-2.
In a desperate attempt to give their travelling fans something to cheer for the Devils pulled their net minder. One shot at their empty goal on the break by Sheffield missed the target by a whisker. However another attempt saw Dowd get his second of the night and wrap up the game at 6-2, the forward has now scored 14 goals in 14 games.
A pleased Paul Thompson said: “I thought we outplayed them and the boys have got to take a lot of credit for that.”
The Steelers will want to try and replicate tonight’s brilliant feats when the Devils return next Saturday so they can take some good form into their play offs quarter final.