Bat­tling Steel­ers earn re­wards the hard way

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT - PHIL HAR­RI­SON

SH­EFFIELD STEEL­ERS scrapped their way back to win­ning ways over the week­end, main­tain­ing their 100 per cent record in the Chal­lenge Cup with two one-goal wins.

First came a 3-2 suc­cess over arch-ri­vals Not­ting­ham Pan­thers at the Na­tional Ice Cen­tre on Saturday night – cour­tesy of goals from Robert Dowd (2) and Matt Mar­quardt – be­fore a win by the same score­line saw them pick up another two points against vis­it­ing Brae­head Clan.

It sees the Steel­ers as clear lead­ers in Group A with four wins from four.

All the scor­ing in Sh­effield came within a re­mark­able sev­en­minute time-frame last night, the Steel­ers edg­ing them­selves in front through John Arm­strong, who got the fi­nal touch on a strike from Colton Fret­ter at 32.25 on the pow­er­play.

Just over five min­utes had elapsed when the hosts put them­selves 2-0 ahead through cap­tain Jonathan Phillips, who buried a re­bound ef­fort at 37.27.

But the Clan stormed back and were level with two goals in as many min­utes, the first com­ing when Ville Hämäläi­nen scram­bled one in from close range at 39.06, with goal-line video tech­nol­ogy re­quired to con­firm it had in fact crossed the line.

Only 17 sec­onds had elapsed be­fore the vis­i­tors were level when Ryan Po­tulny beat Ervins Mus­tukovs in the Steel­ers’ goal.

But a mad minute ended with An­dreas Valdix’s shot fly­ing past Brae­head goal­tender Ryan Nie at 39.45 for what proved to be the win­ning goal.

It was a sim­i­larly edgy af­fair 24 hours ear­lier in the East Mid­lands as the Steel­ers faced the Pan­thers look­ing to bounce back from a de­mor­al­is­ing 5-1 league de­feat at Coven­try Blaze the pre­vi­ous Sunday.

For­mer Blaze winger Mar­quardt con­tin­ued his re­cent scor­ing streak since re­turn­ing from in­jury when he put the Steel­ers ahead in the 13th minute, Dowd dou­bling the ad­van­tage late in the pe­riod to put the vis­i­tors in con­trol.

Not­ting­ham hit back early in the sec­ond pe­riod through Zack Phillips, but a late pow­er­play goal from Dowd re­stored the Steel­ers’ two-goal cush­ion.

Josh Shalla struck for the Pan­thers seven min­utes from the end, but Mus­tukovs and the Steel­ers’ de­fence held firm to seal the points.


WIN­NING RE­TURN: Sh­effield Steel­ers’ Jonathan Phillips bat­tles for pos­ses­sion against Brae­head’s Matt Hay­wood.

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