Poor start proves costly for Steelers in Cardiff

Mike Duco scored twice for Sheffield Steelers in a 5-3 Challenge Cup defeat at Cardiff Devils. Picture: Dean Woolley.
Mike Duco scored twice for Sheffield Steelers in a 5-3 Challenge Cup defeat at Cardiff Devils. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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HEAD coach Paul Thompson felt his side missed an opportunity to get their domestic season off to a winning start after a 5-3 Challenge Cup defeat at Cardiff Devils on Sunday.

The Steelers ended their debut Champions Hockey League with an entertaining 4-1 defeat to Sweden’s Frolunda Indians on Saturday night.

But they were always chasing the game in Cardiff after falling behind to two unanswered first period goals, courtesy of Joey Haddad and Joey Martin.

After a goalless second period, Steelers halved the deficit at 44.06 through Robert Dowd, only for Carl Hudson to restore the home side’s two goal advantage less than a minute later.

Mike Duco struck to make it a one-goal game again but Cardiff once more hit back, this time through Leigh Salters at 46.13.

Duco’s second of the night came on the powerplay at 55.26 but, as the Steelers chased an equaliser, they were hit by an empty net strike from Jake Morrisette with just 21 seconds remaining.

“I felt it took us 10-12 minutes to get our legs and by that time we were 2-0 down,” said Thompson. “We made early mistakes and were punished by a very good Cardiff side.

“The second period belonged to us, we really needed to get on the board in that middle period. We had chances especially on the powerplay. I felt we overplayed things at time.

“The reality is that we would hope for better than two from nine on the powerplay. We have to be a little more ruthless in front of goal.”

On Saturday, Frolunda – last season’s runners-up in the competition – scored the only goal in an entertaining end-to-end first period, Elias Falth scoring on the powerplay at 16.35 with Mathieu Roy in the penalty box on a double minor for high sticks.

At 35.24, Matss Rosseli-Olsen was called for high sticks and, like their visitors, the Steelers made the man advantage count, Jeff Legue drawing them level 86 seconds later.

Artturi Lehkonen put Frolunda ahead at 45.01 but, despite a 5-on-3 powerplay, the Steelers couldn’t convert soon after, being made to pay at 50,22 when Ryan when Lasch fired low past goalie Tyler Plante to make it 3-1.

As the Steelers pushed to reduce the two-goal deficit, they conceded another powerplay goal when Falth grabbed his second at 58.26.