IT MAY have literally been a pointless weekend but Sheffield Steelers, but head coach Aaron Fox found much to admire about his team’s performances over the course of two defeats.
Saturday’s 5-2 Challenge Cup defeat at Manchester Phoenix was followed by a keenly-fought 3-2 reverse on home ice in the regular season schedule 24 hours later against Cardiff Devils.
So far, so bad. But, on both occasions, Fox was keen to accentuate the positive, justifiably for the most part, his team out-shooting the Storm by almost 2-to-1 in Altrincham before pushing a well-stocked Cardiff team very close.
Fox wanted to use Sunday night’s encounter with the Devils as a benchmark or where his team are at this stage of the season and – apart from the result – he wasn’t disappointed.
“I thought that was a really good hockey game,” said Fox. “It could have gone either way and we had chances to take it over and build a lead.
“But they were also ready to go and it was two teams of men out there tonight and I enjoyed the battle. I think we’re right there.”
After a goalless first period against Cardiff, the deadlock was eventually broken when Joey Haddad back-handed a rebound through Tomas Duba at 28.36.
A bizarre diving call on Nikolai Lemtyugov and a subsequent call on John Armstrong for abuse of official stung the home crowd into life which seemed to spark their short-handed team,
Marc-Olivier robbing Gleason Fournier on halfway before speeding away to fire past Ben Bowns.
The Steelers were more than a match for Andrew Lord’s team, but found themselves behind again when Sam Jardine tipped in Bryce Reddick’s effort past an unsighted Duba at 40.29.
But the hosts were soon level when good work on the boards by Armstrong allowed him to find Lemtyugov in the crease, where he turned sharply to back-hand past a sprawling Bowns.
The killer blow, however, came when it looked as if the Steelers had killed off another penalty, only for Joey Haddad to tip in for what proved to be the winner at 53.39.