Ice Hockey: Goals are back for Sheffield Steelers just when they need them

Robert Dowd in action for Sheffield Steelers against Coventry Blaze
Robert Dowd in action for Sheffield Steelers against Coventry Blaze

Steelers go into their Challenge Cup semi-final second leg at Nottingham Panthers tomorrow having re-discovered their goal touch.

Sheffield need to over-turn a 3-1 deficit to progress. To achieve that they need every forward firing live rounds - not something that happens every match.

Last night, it all came right Colton Fretter scoring twice in a nine-goal game.

But in the previous two hours, they’d only managed two goals. Chances came and went wastefully.

Hopefully, they will have enough offensive energy and inventiveness left to challenge Panthers’ lead.

Steelers’ mixed home form certainly didn’t travel with them over the Irish Sea. They were 3-1 up at the first interval.

Steelers struck the first blow at 06.22 when Fretter beat Carsen Chubak as Sheffield penetrated space left by a Belfast line change.

An unmarked Michael Forney doubled the lead after 10 minutes, tapping in one the back post. And while Craig Peacock got Giants off the mark at 11;58, Steelers were still imbued with confidence and restored their two-goal margin.

Rob Dowd, who had assisted on Fretter’s strike, got one himself. It was only his second third goal in 13 games, but it was certainly a welcome one.

Fretter nabbed his second to give the Steelers a 4-1 lead (PP.)

But Giants went on a goal streak started by Nathan Robinson. And it was 4-3 at 49;10, when Calvin Elfring beat Geoff Woolhouse.

Momentum was now with Giants and it was no surprise when Colin Shields levelled against his old club.

But D-man Cullen Eddy took just a minute in overtime to harvest maximum points for Sheffield.

n On Saturday, Steelers’ vulnerability on home ice reared its head again.

Just like their previous Arena match, they scored just once, this time despite rifling 36 shots on Coventry’s hot goalie Brian Stewart.

Darrell Hay took a cross check penalty and that opened the way for Ben Arnt to score at 21;50 after his side intercepted a Steeler pass.

Just 39 seconds later it was 0-2 when Ryan O’Marra struck.

That’s the way it stayed until three minutes to the end when Mathieu Roy scored on the PP, tipping in Ben O’Connor’s point drive.

It wasn’t that Steelers didn’t play reasonably and you couldn’t fault Woolhouse, who played despite pulling his groin, early on.

They just didn’t execute smartly enough on their home pad - something that has been identified previously but remains a challenging issue.

* Steelers’ official Dave Simms tweeted a remark that had some fans wondering about what he was implying, yesterday. He posted: “Proper Steeler = Geoff Woolhouse, our most injured goalie starts tonight’s game.” The two import goalies Frank Doyle and Josh Unice are currently out.

RESULTS

Sunday 22nd February

Elite League

Belfast Giants 4 Sheffield Steelers 5 (After Overtime)

Cardiff Devils 3 Fife Flyers 1

Coventry Blaze 2 Nottingham Panthers 1

Dundee Stars 0 Braehead Clan 5

Edinburgh Capitals 5 Hull Stingrays 4 (After Penalty Shootout)