Sunday night the Sheffield Steelers suffered a 3-2 defeat to top of the league Cardiff Devils in a game overshadowed with controversy.
Paul Thompson and the Sheffield Steelers travelled to the Welsh capital looking to inflict a significant blow to the Devills title bid.
Short benched and seemingly competing against an extra man all night, it was always going to be extra difficult. “I couldn’t be more proud of our boys…” said Steelers Head Coach Paul Thompson.
With The Elite Leagues two best teams on show, it was always going to be an intense contenst and boy did it live up to expectation.
Going into the game Cardiff sat nine points clear and despite Sheffield having five games in hand it was the home side who most believed sat the prettier.
Having struggled so far in the head-to-head matchups the visiting Steelers took the lead thanks to hometown boy Johnathon Phillips.
Calmly slotting the puck five hole on Ben Bowns, Phillips lead by example on for the crucial first goal. Only minutes later, the controversy began.
With the Devils on the Powerplay, a face-off in the Steelers zone saw Gleason Fournier take aim and his shot deflected past Ervins Mustukovs.
However, Guillaume Desbiens on the penalty kill as he so often does was trying to block the shot. But having been interefered on he was unable to get remotely close to the shot, leading to the tying goal.
Rightly incensed by the no call on the play, Desbiens lost his temper with the import referee and subsequently found himself sitting out the rest of the game.
Sheffield thought they retook the lead after a Jesse Schultz backhander rattled the post only for it to be waved a goal by the ref. Unlike a couple of nights ago when a similar incident happened in Edinburgh which saw the referee not listen to the goal judge, tonight it seemed the rules had changed as the on ice decisions was reversed.
Things ultimately began getting out of hand and with the puck in the Sheffield zone Levi Nelson went chasing Andrew Hotham before receiving a cross check to the face.
Already on the delayed penalty, Cardiff found themselves with an extra two men, and with the goal gaping, it was now two one.
Nelson went on to receive stitches in the period break and but returned for the final twenty minutes, and wishing only three minutes gone in the third it was two apiece.
The King of Sheffield Mathieu Roy find himself in his usual spot to tap home from feet away from the goal.
A cross check from Zach Fitzgerald was enough to draw a penalty despite receiving one of his own in the same passage of play.
In what proved to be a costly powerplay the Devils regained their advantage and held on for the win.
A fantastic performance that went unrewarded as the officials failed to take control of the game, pretty much summed up last night.
It’s now a huge Derby day double header as the Panthers host on Saturday night before returning to Steel City for the Sunday game.