Title race intensifies after Sheffield Steelers finally discover joy over Cardiff

John Armstrong, scorer of Steelers' second goal, helps guard Ervins Mustukovs' goal. Picture courtesy of Helen Brabon/EIHL
John Armstrong, scorer of Steelers' second goal, helps guard Ervins Mustukovs' goal. Picture courtesy of Helen Brabon/EIHL
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GAME ON.

Despite giving up a point in an overtime loss to Braehead Clan on Saturday, Sheffield Steelers rescued their weekend and possibly their Elite League title hopes when they finally overcame leaders Cardiff Devils in South Wales 24 hours later.

In three previous league visits to Cardiff Arena this season, Paul Thompson’s team had come away licking their wounds after three defeats by the same 3-2 scoreline.

This time, it was they who won by the odd goal, edging out their rivals 4-3 on another thrilling night.

The result leaves them four points behind Cardiff with a game in hand and two meetings still to come between the two in March at Sheffield Arena.

Colton Fretter’s 46th-minute strike proved the difference on the night, the Steelers holding on for both points in regulation despite a strike from Andrew Hotham with 97 seconds remaining on the clock ensuring some late nerves.

Earlier, Scott Hotham had opened the scoring on the night in the fifth minute, but it was the Steelers who went in ahead at the first break after captain Jonathan Phillips’s 11th-minute leveller was enhanced by a John Armstrong strike at 13.07.

Just 16 seconds into the second period saw Fretter grab his first of the night to make it 3-1 but again the Devils rallied, Layne Ulmer making it a one-goal game again at 26.39.

But Fretter was in the right spot again at 45.16, giving the Steelers what later proved to be a crucial two-goal cushion.

On Saturday, Matt Beca was the game-winning hero at Ice Sheffield when his overtime winner left the hosts with just a point to show for their efforts in a 3-2 defeat.

Guillaume Desbines tries to get another Steelers attack going in Cardiff. Picture courtesy of Helen BRabon/EIHL

Guillaume Desbines tries to get another Steelers attack going in Cardiff. Picture courtesy of Helen BRabon/EIHL

The late drama came after a frenetic opening period saw all four goals scored, Steelers having to come from 2-0 down after Mike Hammond and Scott Pitt put Ryan Finnerty’s team in the driving seat inside seven minutes.

Fretter halved the deficit on the power play at 12.07 before Andreas Valdix levelled with just 60 seconds remaining in the opening period.