Mixed results for Sheffield Steeldogs
After a run of games against some of the EPLs better teams, the Sheffield Steeldogs welcomed a weekend taking on the leagues two basement teams but their performances failed to impress
While they beat Bracknell Bees 4-2 at home, they slipped up 6-3 at Hull Pirates.
With a short bench and just two imports, the 10th place Bees visit to iceSheffield should have been a chance for the Steeldogs to pad out their stats but Lukas Smital's side were to remind the Dogs that there are no easy wins.
An extremely scrappy opening session gave the home fans little to cheer about and when Antonov scored late on, no one could really argue that their labours deserved it.
The second period was painfully similar and the only goal came when Antonov took advantage of Bosas losing the puck on a power play.
The GB under 18s second goal of the night was all the more frustrating as the talented forward had initially signed to play for Sheffield before his A level grades took him elsewhere.
The final 20 minutes featured a Steeldogs side who were streets ahead of their earlier selves; Bosas and Wood both scored within 75 seconds of the restart, beating the Sheffielder Alex Mettam in the Bees net after he'd looked rock solid before.
Suddenly with Coach Wood replacing the injured Lascek in the second line, the Dogs had three balanced lines playing with intensity and energy.
Bracknell commendably regrouped and kept up the fight and kept Sheffield at bay until some quick play between Korhon and Haywood gave Squires a juicy chance he buried. Squires wrapped the win up with a second in the 57th minute, a win that looked so unlikely 20 minutes before.
Liam Charnock said: “Our mind-set was wrong coming in to the game; thinking ‘it's just Bracknell, they're short of skaters and their seasons done and it's going to be an easy game’ - but they were forcing us pretty strong, took us by surprise and we couldn't get in to it. It switched in the third period, we got our heads together and one quick goal led to two to three.
“We changed the lines in the break and Woody jumped on with Hirsty and me and suddenly we were flying. First shift there’s a goal and then second shift there is another and all of sudden everyone is enjoying it and playing well”.
Net minder Dalibor Sedlar added: “Games like these are hard, you don't want to lose, you can't lose. You think you're going to beat them by 10 goals in the first period and the game was going to be over but it’s not like that.
“I’m looking forward to the playoffs. This short type of playoff makes it hard to say who will win. I think it is better for us than playing a team four or five times. I hope we will go to Coventry as we have never been in my time here”.
The visit to Hull on Sunday was the Steeldogs opportunity to complete a season sweep of the Pirates and a Korhon strike at 4.23 hinted that was on. Hull came back in to the game early in the second period when Sheffield lost the puck on a power play; Tommi Laine breaking away to level before a scramble in front of Sedlar's lead to a goal credited to Warren Tait. The see-saw period then saw goals from Lee Haywood and Cole Shudra put the visitors ahead before a Salonen brace gave Hull a 4-3 lead.
The third period should have been when the Steeldogs came back and took the win - but Hull hadn't read the script. With the referee's calling becoming increasingly erratic, the Pirates kept their composure with Towner finding the net before Salonen completed his hat-trick. Frustrations with the calls led to player/coach Greg Wood getting sent for an early bath as his team played out a choppy but scoreless conclusion to the game. Pirates secured their first win over Sheffield at the eighth attempt.
Steeldogs defenceman Lee Haywood achieved two personal milestones over the weekend.
Saturday was his 500th game played in the EPL and all of them played for the Steeldogs/Scimitars.
His goal on Sunday was his 200th point in EPL competition.