An utterly dominant third period for the Steelers saw them run away with a 4-0 win over the second placed Cardiff Devils as the Steelers sent the fans home with an early Christmas present.
The Steelers had to weather pressure from the Devils early in the first, but tilted the ice in the direction of the Devils net from the ten-minute mark onwards and were ruthless when the chances presented themselves.
Despite the pressure in the first, a first Steelers goal for Diffley gave the Steelers a one goal lead. A scoreless second period then followed before Neumann, Cormier and Balmas added goals in the third to come out with a convincing victory.
The Steelers were back in action tonight riding a four-game winning streak after defeating the Manchester Storm mid-week and booking their place in the Challenge Cup Semi-Final. This would be the last action before Santa arrives as the Cardiff Devils were in town who were victorious over the Glasgow Clan last night.
With Sam Jones still recovering from injury, Zach Vinnell made way as scratch as Cole Shudra made his way back onto the defensive blue line as Greenfield took his place between the pipes as starting netminder.
A victory for the Steelers tonight would see them extend their lead at the top of the Elite League table as tonights opponents, the Cardiff Devils sit in second place.
First Period (1-0)
The Devils came out strong from the first second putting pressure on the Steelers defence and dominating possession. However, the Steelers did well keeping efforts to the outside and limiting their opponents to only 4 shots on Greenfield’s goal.
The closest chance for the Devils coming from Sandford down the Devils right wing as he shot across Greenfield and rang the outside of the post to the Steelers relief.
The game then seemed to tip in the Steelers favour from the midway point of the period with the Steelers speed causing the Devils problems.
Despite the best efforts of the Steelers forwards, it was defencemen Brien Diffley who netted his first goal of the season at (12.17) with a beautiful finish from the slot any attacker would have been proud of over Tyler Wall’s catcher, assisted by Mikko Juusola.
Minor penalties were then traded which were both killed off as the Steelers took the one goal lead into the second period.
Second Period (1-0)
Despite the Steelers adding a further 8 shots to their tally on Wall’s net, it was a goalless second period which saw the Steelers take the one goal lead into the third period as the Steelers seemed to be taking on the officials aswell as the Devils during the second twenty.
Frustrations started to boil over on the bench with both players and coaches bemoaning minor penalties called on both Cole Shudra for holding the stick and Scott Allen for slashing, despite infringements the opposite way being let go. However, the penalty killers did their job and saw off both penalties, even having chances off their own short-handed at the other end.
However, the Steelers would start the third period with the man advantage as a call finally went their way as Brandt headed to the box for a hooking call.
Third Period (4-0)
What a third period for the Steelers it was as an utterly dominant last twenty minutes saw them take all the points on offer with a ruthless display.
No luck on the powerplay, but it made no difference as only eight seconds later at (42.04) the Steelers were up by two as Patrick Watling entered the zone and laid it off to Brett Neumann trailing behind and made no mistake beating Wall over the pad as Kevin Tansey picked up the secondary assist.
The ice had certainly tilted in the direction of the Devils goal once again with the Steelers looking dangerous every time they went forward, and they made the pressure pay with a third goal at (48.55). Great hustle from Mikko Juusola who won the puck back at the Cardiff blue line who found Dominic Cormier in the slot and his one-timer was too much for Wall who was beaten five-hole. Watling also picking up his second assist of the night.
Tempers boiled over on the Cardiff bench after the third as Marcus Crawford was sent to the box for an abuse of the officials call, but he wasn’t to feel too lonely as he was joined by two of his teammates shortly afterwards when Cole Sandford was called for hooking, only to be handed a further ten-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct when smashing his stick in the box.
The icing on the Christmas cake was added on the resulting powerplay at (51.30) when Mitchell Balmas got himself onto the scoresheet by finding the top corner of Wall’s net from around the left-wing face-off circle after receiving a nice pass from Saucerman with Vallerand adding the second assist.
And that was all she wrote as the Steelers signed off for Christmas with another two league points.
Awards & Table
After Mark Richardson collected the Man of the Match award for the Devils, Kevin Tansey was awarded the Steelers honour and took on the role of Santa Claus as Marco Vallerand got his wish of Christmas beer!
Another two points for the Steelers sees them sit comfortably at the top of the Elite League tree as they now lead tonights opponents who sit in second place by four points with two games in hand.
Up next is the real Christmas day, and that is Boxing Day at the Sheffield Steelers as the Nottingham Panthers are back in town. Don’t travel for this one if you don’t have a ticket as we are already sold out. We can’t wait to see you Sheffield. 4pm face-off – See you there!