VIDEO: Sheffield Steelers 3-0 Braehead Clan; Everybody is buying in, says coach
Sheffield Steelers shut out Braehead Clan in an efficient victory at the Arena tonight.
Steelers have beaten Clan on this season's four previous meetings but they were held for the opening 20 minutes, and had an intuitive stick save from Ervins Mustukovs to keep the home goal intact.
While Sheffield gave the puck away too many times, Clan were wasteful of their chances.
Brendan Brooks missed a clear chance with Mustukovs' goal at his mercy.
And the Latvian goalie stopped a breakaway from Mike Embach - who late shot wide from a strong position.
Levi Nelson threw his body around in the normal Nelson style for Sheffield and his line with Andreas Valdix and Robert Dowd came closest to unlocking the Clan defence.
John Armstrong, who has had the most points against the Scottish side so far this year, created the breakthrough 98 seconds into the middle session, a period in which Tim Wallace took over centre duties between Mathieu Roy and Colton Fretter.
Armstrong's inside pass was lashed home first time, low and sweet, by Matt Marquardt, who was stood above the circles.
Ryan Nie in the visitors' goal stopped a full-blooded effort from Mark Matheson, but Steelers couldn't readily find a second.
Sheffield dominated the later stages and thoroughly deserved their second, Ben O'Connor unlucky not to get a penalty shot when he was impeded on a breakaway.
Fretter drifted in from the right though and swept the puck past Nie at 48;22.
Then Roy scored an empty-netter in the dying minutes.
Afterwards, coach Paul Thompson said while confidence was returning, there was still some way to go.
He was delighted for shut-out king Mustukovs, whom he said had been "in the zone" all night.
And a third straight goal for Roy helped his self-esteem too.
Overall the team didn't show the jitters they have been showing, recently, said the coach.
Now preparations were underway for the big Boxing Day encounter with Nottingham Panthers.