Coach Paul Thompson had expected his side to run out of steam in their second friendly match against Södertälje SK at iceSheffield.
Despite beating them 4-2 the night before, he felt the Swedes’ longer training camp would give them the edge in the latter half of Sunday’s game.
Sadly he got it right!
SSK, fast and direct, had just that little bit more in the tank.
But a great work-out for Sheffield, nonetheless.
The challenge match started well, Tim Wallace’s reverse pass set up a chance for Ben O’Connor inside 30 seconds.
And there were some interesting cameos from Steelers’ bigger men, Matt Marquardt forechecking well and launching a hefty hit or two and Zack Fitzgerald controlling his zone.
Home goalie Ervins Mustukovs kept the score blank when a Thomas Olsen shot smashed into his helmet.
However the game’s first Power Play saw the Swedes go ahead. O’Connor went in the bin, Brady Ramsay failed to clear his zone and Henrik Nyberg fired home a mid air puck.
O’Connor then slipped up with a cross-ice pass and Mustukovs saved his blushes.
The game ignited when Ramsay fought Olsen - the new Steeler getting in some fast right hands.
Steelers were unfortunate not to draw level two minutes into the middle session, Colton Fretter’s inside pass gave Matt Marquadt a one-one-one but his shot thudded off goalie Alexander Sahlin’s blocker.
The momentum swung the other way and Christopher Bengtsson scored SSK’s second at 24;17.
Sheffield began to lose their shape as fatigue set in and the Allsvenskan League visitors - who had efficiently closed down all four Steeler lines - could have added more.
The Valdix line, such a success the night before, were caught flat-footed at 41;43 as SSK ran up a 3-0 scoreline, Victor Andersson beating Mustukovs at his far post.
But within a minute Fretter swept the puck low and home to reply for the Play Off champions.
The game opened up and Steelers had more influence on it as they upped the physicality, Fretter and Fitzgerald leading that particular charge.
In fact, Sheffield looked stronger as the third period continued.
And there was the entertaining sight of Fitzgerald baiting SSK fans.
All things considered, a valuable pre-season exercise - with more to come next weekend against even more advanced operators in Nurnberg.