Photo courtesy of Helen Brabon
Devils 3 – 4 Steelers
Having won the title in Belfast on Friday night, this evening was really about presenting the trophy and relishing the championship. There was the awkward inconvenience of a game to be processed first however, and our third in eight days against the Steelers. This gave Lord the opportunity to experiment and rest players. So the Devils gave Joey Martin a well deserved rest and tried some new lines with Reddick as forward and Paris and Fournier a defensive pairing. In the bar beforehand Kelman had mentioned that the players had been out until 4 am on Friday celebrating. It would be churlish to begrudge them this and a sluggish start.
The Steelers started with Day in net, after he had performed well mid week against us. The Devils were trying but not really there, and Day was hardly bothered in the first period. Benti went to the deck and in trying to clear it only succeeding in passing to Roy who set up Valdix to give the Steelers the lead. The Devils continued to struggle to find their rhythm, with lots of short passes and inevitably the Steelers got a 2nd through Valdix again. The period ended with only 3 shots for Devils to 19 for Sheffield.
The second period started with a series of slashing calls against the Devils. The 5 on 3 PP eventually paid off of the Steelers despite a series of saves from Bowns with a goal from Westerling. It was not until nearly 6 mins in that the Devils manufactured their first chance with a break by Mo. Faryna was hooked back on a clear break and bizarrely both players received a penalty. This had even the usually implacable Lord shaking his head in disbelief. However the call galvanised the team, leading to a Pope goal. Crowder had his stick unceremoniously removed from his clutches, and was then penalised for rather obviously holding Fitzgerald’s shirt. As if to balance it up, Fitzy then took his customary 2 + 2 for roughing and abuse of officials, but the Devils struggled to work this PP effectively. Roy then received a penalty for face off violation (rightly) to give one minute of 5 on 3, but resolute defending from Steelers & scrambled saves from Day kept the Devils out. This probably marked any chance to turn the game the game their way.
The third period saw the Devils rally (maybe the Guinness had worn off by then) and they stepped up the proficiency of their passing and frequency of attacks. A great save from Day only spilled to Ulmer who pounced to get the Devils second with 10 mins remaining. This was however reciprocated when Bowns saved and as he fell back the puck spilled out for Dowd to tap it in and to snuff out any comeback. The Devils persisted admirably though and a save by Bowns one on one saw the puck shift to the the other end and transition round the back of the net by Ulmer for Faryna to bundle Home. This finally made it a contest, but too late in the game. In the end it hardly mattered, and when Mo promoted Richardson to lift the league trophy, we hardly remembered there had been a game preceding it.