Sheffield Steelers showed their resilience today as they bounced back from a heavy defeat against table-topping Belfast Giants with a 3-2 victory against Cardiff Devils at the Utilita Arena.
It was a real test of the Steelers play-off credentials with the Devils being level on points before the clash today.
Before the game the Steelers had played the Cardiff side four times this season, with the Steelers having won two and lost two against the Devils.
The Sheffield side were without Brandon McNaly and Sam Jones who were suspended following incidents against the Belfast Giants.
The Devils landed the first blow in the encounter in the second minute when Brodie Reid was first to the puck following Greenfield’s save to Marcus Crawford’s effort.
However, the Sheffield side quickly responded with chances before veteran forward Robert Dowd picked the puck up on the right wing and charged forwards before slotting past Ben Browns.
Cardiff were briefly reduced to four outfield players when Sam Jardine received a two-minute penalty for holding, but were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage and the first period finished one apiece.
The second period was a scrappier affair with both sides conceding power plays and it took an Alex Graham swipe to break the deadlock for the Steelers.
In Cardiff’s third powerplay of the period the Devils equalised with seconds remaining when a one timer from Cole Sandford flew past Greenfield.
In the third period, both sides were quickly reduced to four outfield players, when Sandford and Graham were penalised for hooking.
It was during the following powerplay that the Steelers were able to retake the lead when Connoly was alive to the rebound and made no mistake in slotting the puck into the Cardiff net.
The Steelers were able to resist a late bombardment from the Devils and held out to take the points.
Victory against the Devils sees the home side move two points clear of Cardiff Devils in fourth place.
After the game Sheffield Steelers’ coach Aaron Fox said: “I think we’re a little bit of a fragile group right now where you feel like everything that can go wrong will go wrong for us. We just talked about keeping our composure, don’t change our game.
“I though the second period was our best period, we probably should have been up one or two goals up after the second period.
“[We said] Don’t change our game plan, continue to dictate tempo and make them earn everything they get, so it was actually a really, really important hockey game for our group.”
The coach heaped praise on Robert Dowd before the veteran forward celebrates his testimonial match on Tuesday.
Mr Fox said: “Rob has been outstanding since I got here and I know I’m getting him at the back end of his 10 years. He scored a huge goal tonight and I’m excited for Tuesday.”