Ice Hockey: Fife Flyers 1 Sheffield 3 - Steelers are the champions!

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If you’d been dangling atop the 220 ft carousel currently erected on Fargate, you wouldn’t have had your heart in your mouth quite as much as Steelers’ fans had in the last League weekend.

But when the roller coaster stopped Steelers became the first team to win five Elite League titles. It was their first back to back win since 1996 - and what a ride!

Ben O Connor - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

Ben O Connor - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

Paul Thompson, who had returned to England after coaching adventures in Sweden and Denmark, is once again a conquering hero.

It came down the last game, on the last day of the season - a triumph of fine margins ensuring a second-successive title.

The side, oft clobbered by injuries and goaltending issues, showed what they were made of in the home straight, winning their last five.

And thanks go, oddly, to Nottingham Panthers. The turning point for Steelers was the aggregate 10-0 Cup defeat (Feb 23/24) after which Thompson’s men went on to win all but one of their next seven.

Robert Dowd Goal - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

Robert Dowd Goal - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

There had been other adversities. Sheffield lost five of eight games last month and four out of six in January. But the club that started the domestic campaign with a loss at Cardiff Devils, put their title rivals into second place on Sunday.

Sheffield quickly went for Fife’s throat and Jeff Legue and Levi Nelson had chances before Cullen Eddy hit a post. The breakthrough came short-handed when Tyler Mosienko scored at 12:21. Mathieu Roy added another 85 seconds later.

Steelers lost Cullen Eddy for 12 minutes for checking to the head but Sheffield consolidated. And Marek Pinc made a smart stop before Ben O’Connor blocked a second effort. O’Connor took a puck to the face shortly after and went off for stitches. Worse was to come with Shayne Stockton reducing Steelers’ lead.

Conny Stromberg popped up to set up Roy’s second at 44;49 to give the travelling fans a night to remember.

Jonathan Phillips - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

Jonathan Phillips - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

Pinc was Steelers’ best player on Saturday.

Nottingham threatened three times down Sheffield’s left and cracked shots at the Czech netminder. early doors. Stephen Schultz and Juraj Kolnik found gaps in the Arena rearguard.

But Steelers scored just before the end of the first period, when Eddy fired past Shane Madalora. Nelson doubled the advantage firing into Madalora’s near post.

Zack Fitzgerald took a match penalty for checking to the head and Panthers got one back from Kevin Quick, with 11 seconds left on the Power Play.

Russ Moyer - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

Russ Moyer - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 19/03/16

Legue was abused by his markers, but struck back by selflessly picking up Rob Dowd to score - Dowd almost throwing himself through the plexi in celebration.

Three times Stromberg’s left wing crosses looked like adding to the tally.

But it was O’Connor who added the fourth, with 70 seconds of the middle period.

What most of the 9,203 fans wanted next was a mundane last period, where Sheffield would sit on their lead, but Steelers never do mundane. They conceded goals from Brad Moran and Geoff Waugh within eight minute to rachet the pressure to fever pitch. But Marek shut the door to hand his side victory.

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