TRUE to form and has so often been the case this season, Sheffield Steelers produced another mixed weekend.
Just over 25 minutes into Sunday night’s encounter with league leaders Cardiff Devils, all seemed to be going so well for Tom Barrasso’s team.
An entertaining and deserved 3-2 win over Guildford Flames on Saturday meant the Steelers headed down to South Wales in a buoyant mood thanks to recording back-to-back victories over the Surrey club.
And it was still all smiles at Ice Arena Wales when Evan McGrath scored his second goal of the weekend at 24.06 to put the Steelers 3-1 ahead against the reigning Elite League champions, Josh Pitt and Ben O’Connor having earlier got on the scoresheet after Charles Linglet had opened the scoring for the hosts.
But then Cardiff, as Cardiff so often do, clicked. Four unanswered goals inside 10 minutes later and it was, effectively, game over, the points confirmed when Andrew Lord’s side added two further strikes in the third period.
Results elsewhere means the Steelers start the week in the eighth and final playoff spot with 15 games remaining, with Dundee Stars - on the same number of points - and Coventry Blaze - one point adrift - hovering below.
Manchester Storm moved back above the Steelers with the point they gained in a 4-3 shoot-out loss to Coventry, while Guildford bounced back from their loss in Sheffield with a 5-4 win at Dundee Stars.
Sheffield had ensured their six-game head-to-head series with Guildford ended all-square on Saturday by backing up the hard-fought 2-1 win they had enjoyed at The Spectrum on Wednesday night.
Jonas Westerling got the ball rolling with a power play strike at 15.23 before Anthony DeLuca doubled the hosts lead early in the second period.
But Guildford refused to go away all evening and halved the deficit just after the halfway point with a power play strike of their own through Calle Ackered.
Evan McGrath pounced at 35.06 to restore the two-goal advantage for the Steelers, only for that to be cut in half swiftly by a second power play effort from Ackered, although that was as close as the visitors got.