THe regular season is over and it's playoff time for the Elite League starting Saturday Night in Cardiff.
The Devils won their second Challenge Cup in 3 seasons on Sunday with a dominating final 40 minutes against the Sheffield Steelers.
The atmosphere inside Ice Arena Wales was electric with two proud fanbases splitting the arena down the middle with half a sea of orange and the other half a sea of red.
The Devils got off to a perfect start as they opened the scoring at the 3:53 mark of the first period. Joey Martin broke into the Sheffield zone and dropped it to Sean Bentivoglio who fed the puck over to a trailing Gleason Fournier, then the Devils defender fired a laser of a wrist shot through traffic past Ervins Mustukovs in net for the Steelers to make it 1-0.
Pictured below: Fournier opens the scoring for the Devils
The Devils then got into some penalty trouble with Matthew Myers getting called for holding at 8:40. Whilst on the penalty kill, Mark Louis was called for tripping giving the Steelers 30 seconds of a 5 on 3 advantage. The Devils penalty killers were on top form and the Devils blocked shot after shot to kill off both penalties.
At 16:24 Steelers forward Robert Dowd sent the Sheffield fans into a frenzy with his equalising goal to tie the game at 1-1, then after a bad change by the Devils resulted in a penalty for too many men, the Steelers leading scorer Mathieu Roy fired his team ahead on the powerplay with a bullet past Ben Bowns at 19:19 to give Sheffield the 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Pictured below: Steelers celebrate Mathieu Roy's powerplay goal
After getting outshot 14 to 10 in the opening period, the Devils dominated the middle 20 minutes, outshooting Sheffield 17 to 2. Mustukovs made big save after big save to keep his team ahead, but you could feel the sustained pressure would eventually see the Devils equalise. The game tying goal came at 37:40 when Mark Louis tipped in a shot from Bentivoglio to tie the game at 2 apiece and set up an epic final period with a title on the line.
Pictured below: Louis tips in a shot from Martin to tie the game
The Devils continued their strong pressure on the Steelers net into the third period again outshooting the Steelers 13 to 3. The Devils got the early go-ahead goal at 43:38 when Joey Haddad and Patrick Asselin combined to set up their linemate Layne Ulmer who was in front of the Steelers goal and fired the puck through a crowd of bodies past Mustukovs to make it 3-2. The pressure continued throughout the period on Mustukovs, but he was on top form, eventually facing 40 shots from the Devils.
Pictured below: The moment the game-winning goal from Ulmer went in the net
The Steelers got a late powerplay when Chris Culligan was called for interference at 57:07, but the Devils penalty killers kept the Steelers from snagging a 2nd powerplay goal and with Culligan returning to the ice, the Devils cleared the zone time and time again until the clock ticked down and the Devils were crowned Challenge Cup Champions.
Pictured below: Injured Devils Captain Jake Morissette lifts the Challenge Cup