EIHL Challenge Cup Final: Cardiff Devils 3 Sheffield Steelers 2
There is no disgrace in losing to a better team and Steelers have to accept that as they dipped 3-2 to Cardiff Devils at the Ice Arena Wales.
The League champions-elect have had Steelers number for most of the season and came from behind to deservedly lift the first domestic piece of silverware this season.
Devils have put 30 goals past Ervins Mustukovs this season, beating Sheffield six times out of eight. And after a tight first period, they went on to dominate.
Steelers had been hoping to win the Cup for the first time since the 2002–03 season, when Mike Blaisdell ran the bench, Kent Simpson top scored and Dion Darling was pummelling rivals into the pad.
The blue and orange shirts arrived on the back of Saturday’s morale-sapping 4-1 home defeat to Coventry Blaze, started with their fourth line icing, under orders to suffocate Cardiff’s top boys.
The Welsh had four shots on Ervins Mustukovs in those first two minutes though and Gleason Fournier wrist-shot into the visitors’ net at 3:53.
Steelers were creating chances at this stage. Colton Fretter shot wide, Luke Ferrara passed when he should have shot and a Mike Ratchuck effort was deflected over.
A Power Play - 30 seconds of which was 5-on-3 - saw Geoff Walker and Fretter both blaze over. The pressure told when Rob Dowd arrived just at the right time to lash the puck home (16;24.)
Then Mathieu Roy smashed a lightning quick left wing shot across Bowns into the net for 2-1 at 19;19.
Cardiff penned Sheffield into their own zone, Scott Hotham causing problems and Devils’ top scorer Joey Martin shooting over the bar.
Sheffield briefly came out of their defensive shell and began picking away at the home defence, but often they were in danger of being overrun.
Devils deserved an equaliser from Mark Louis making it 2-2 at 37:40.
Sheffield were again run ragged as Layne Ulmer despatched a third at 43:38.
Apart from a Guillaume Desbiens breakaway, though, quality chances on Bowns were hard to find.
It was a fair result: Steelers did not bring their ‘A’ game and could have done more for their 1,250 travelling fans.