HV71 5-3 Sheffield Steelers - a loss that should feel like a win

Tyler Mosienko competes for the puck in Sweden
Tyler Mosienko competes for the puck in Sweden

Sheffield Steelers scaled to the top of European ice hockey and so nearly drove their Elite League flag into the summit.

Against all the odds, playing a Swedish team, HV71, that was expected to destroy them, they were level at the half-way point, came back from two goals down to equalise again before finally succumbing to two goals in the last 10 minutes.

It was a 5-3 loss but it shouldn’t feel like it.

Simply, it was a heroic performance.

Paul Thompson, the coach, was a proud, if slightly frustrated man, at the end.

Getting so close to parity with such a super-fluent Scandinavian side merits nothing other than applause, though.

And Steelers go again in the CHL on Saturday, a no quite so daunting task at EC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria.

They are still in this!

Last night at the Kinnarps Arena in Jönköping, Robert Dowd led the charge for an opener and there was confident work on the puck yet no goal on an early Power Play.

When Mike Ratchuk was penalised, HV showed how it should be done, at 16;48, former New Jersey Devils Mattias Tedenby scoring after a swish PP move.

Considering HV had outshot Sheffield 17-5, it was a fair scoreline.

But three minutes after the first break, Sheffield stunned the Swedes with a close-range John Armstrong equaliser after being fed by Mathieu Roy, and they went gunning for another, Ben O’Connor going close.

Ratchuk’s turnover caused concern but Mustukovs came up with another big glove save 29.24.

A minute later the tide turned again with veteran Martin Tornberg giving the Swedes the lead, for a second time on the PP, from the slot.

That was repeated again with a third, (34:43) this time from Christoffer Persson, which could have knocked the stuffing out of Sheffield.

But they responded when Ratchuk banged in Steelers’s second of the night (38:25.)

And, astonishingly, they equalised for the second time of the evening through Dowd.

But American d-man and former New York Island Dylan Reese popped home for 4-3. And they concluded with a fifth from Pere Arbrandt.

Steelers can hold their head high after an amazing effort.

Coach Thompson said he was proud of the team, but there was frustration at some of the penalties called.

The refereeing decisions were debatable at best on some occasions, but he said: “You have to expect that when you are on the road here.”

He said the most important factor was the evidence that his side could compete at such a high level.

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