Sheffield Steelers 2-1 Nottingham Panthers: gritty win for home side

Sheffield Steelers veteran Rod Sarich dragged his side back into contention on Saturday afternoon, against Nottingham Panthers laying the ground for the tightest of victories.

Sarich had a superb all-round game, in attack and defence.

Corey Neilson, Nottingham coach

Corey Neilson, Nottingham coach

And the victory spring-boarded Sheffield into second place above Nottingham.

The visitors to the virtually-sold out Sheffield Arena had been good value for a lead they had gained at 7;38.

Marek Pink had just done well to block David Ling but in the next attack, Logan MacMillan forced the puck past the Czech goalie.

Panthers had enjoyed more possession in the neutral zone and seemed an inch or so ahead of Paul Thompson's men in individual battles.

But Sarich, who has seen it, done it and bought the ice hockey derby tee-shirt, scored the equaliser at 15;57.

The right defenceman found himself room for a brief skate and shot - beating the Panthers netminder Dan Green.

The packed Arena was awash with orange flags and a swell of relief - but there was lots to put right for coach Paul Thompson at the first interval.

Steelers engineered clearer chances in the middle session, one of the best falling to Guillaume Desbiens on 26;10.

But Rob Dowd sent a bullet shot past Green for 2-1 on the Power play at 36:08 - putting Sheffield in charge for the first time.

They held on - grimly at times - to the lead.

The huge fan base was happy, particularly, that the Steeler goals had come from veterans who have given years of blood, sweat and tears for the club.

Coach Thompson said it had been "a tense game of chess" and not much offence had been generated because of the defensive strategies of both sides.
But he said goalie Pinc had been outstanding and that the two points had been a boost before going into the NIC.

RESULTS

Saturday 26th December

Elite League

Cardiff Devils 7 Coventry Blaze 2

Dundee Stars 2 Braehead Clan 4

Fife Flyers 3 Edinburgh Capitals 0

Sheffield Steelers 2 Nottingham Panthers 1

FIXTURES

Sunday 27th December

Elite League

Braehead Clan v Belfast Giants – 6.00pm

Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils – 5.15pm

Edinburgh Capitals v Dundee Stars – 6.00pm

Manchester Storm v Fife Flyers – 5.00pm

Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers – 4.00pm

Tuesday 29th December

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan – 7.00pm

Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Panthers – 7.30pm

Wednesday 30th December

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Dundee Stars – 7.00pm

Cardiff Devils v Manchester Storm – 7.30pm

Thursday 31st December

Elite League

Braehead Clan v Dundee Stars – 2.00pm

Edinburgh Capitals v Fife Flyers – 4.00pm

Nottingham Panthers v Coventry Blaze – 3.00pm

Friday 1st January

Elite League

Manchester Storm v Sheffield Steelers – 3.00pm