Flames get their first point on the board
JOHN Dunbar had a goal and an assist, and Guildford Flames secured their first Elite League point when they tied the game to force overtime at Nottingham Panthers.
But Robert Farmer scored early in the extra session to deliver Panthers a 3-2 win on Saturday.
Just 24 hours later, however, the Sheffield Steelers jumped on the Flames early and often, scoring the opener shortly after face-off and adding a couple more for three unanswered first-period goals that set the pace for an eventual 7-1 win at Spectrum.
At Nottingham, Michael Garnett and Brian Stewart held the opposition scoreless with 11 and 10 saves, respectively, in the opening set.
Stewart went on to produce a 42-save night on Saturday while his counterpart made 32 stops.
Around eight minutes into the second period, Dunbar started the scoring to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, but the Panthers replied with goals from Alexander Mokshantsev and Brett Perlini in the back half of the frame for a 2-1 advantage at the break.
Spectrum’s men killed a Dunbar penalty before he stepped out of the box and helped set up the tying goal by Kruise Reddick on exactly 49 minutes, pausing the offensive record until Farmer’s counter grabbed the hosts an extra point a little over a minute into the tie-breaking set.
Robert Dowd kicked off the Steelers’ scoring scree on a powerplay on Sunday less than two minutes into the contest. Jonathan Phillips added another in the 11th minute and John Armstrong, at 16:21, sent the Steelers into the break three goals to the good.
Early in the second period the Flames pulled one back with a David Lillieström Karlsson strike but shortly after that reply, the visitors went back to the powerplay where Colton Fretter restored their three-goal advantage before Dowd’s second of the evening, at 33:56, had the Steelers in command at 5-1 through two periods.
The Yorkshire outfit added a couple more in the final session – Armstrong’s second of the evening at 41:55 and Liam Kirk’s marker inside the last 10 minutes – to complete the result.
“In our circumstances, I think getting a point at Nottingham against another of the league’s premier teams is not a bad outcome,” said Flames head coach Paul Dixon, “[it was] a bit of a reward while trying to keep an eye on the bigger picture, rather than just the scoreboard.
“I would have liked to have seen that outcome result in a little more confidence on Sunday, though.
“I think if you took one theme from Sheffield’s visit, it would be that we came out as tentative as we have since the season started, and we didn’t get moving the way we need to.
“That made it difficult to forecheck effectively, it made it difficult to complete passes and it made it difficult to kill penalties.
“We were flat-footed against a very quick team, and we can’t afford to be backing up on teams who are so deeply talented and capable of complete domination if we don’t try to limit their time and space.
“We have said all along that we are just trying to figure out ways to compete in this league.
“We knew there would be nights like that.
“Saturday was a great reward and Sunday was a valuable lesson, both are games which we can hopefully use to be better going forward.”
42 saves – Brian Stewart