Four points for title-defending Sheffield Steelers over Fife Flyers

Levi Nelson celebrates after returning from injury to score for Sheffield Steelers. Picture Dean Woolley
Levi Nelson celebrates after returning from injury to score for Sheffield Steelers. Picture Dean Woolley

It was March 21 when Sheffield Steelers beat Fife away and became the first team to win five Elite League titles.

While it’s taken a while to formally celebrate last season’s achievement with the traditional banner-raising event, the pride of the team and their 5,734 fans was clear for all on Saturday.

The question now is whether the team has the same enduring power and panache to make it six.

It is early to make any assumption and this weekend did not deliver any definitive question. On Sunday, Sheffield looked like legitimate champions for the first half of the game. John Armstrong, who had missed his chance to chalk his first League goal of the season in a 4-1 home win over Fife 24 hours earlier, scored two in the first 16 minutes.

By 23;07 it was 4-0 via Jesse Schultz and Davey Phillips.

Good teams protect a lead. But Steelers conceded goals to Mat Sisca and David Turon to set up a nervous conclusion.

Sheffield Steelers banner raising

Sheffield Steelers banner raising

However, it doesn’t matter if you concede goals if you win the League and Steelers are four point better off than they were on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday night was peculiar, though. How can a team outshoot the visitors 17-3 and go 1-0 down? How can they have a whole stream of Power Plays and flop so spectacularly?

Thankfully , the errant skaters, who were outshot 18-12 in a flaky second session, found their shooting sticks and piled in three last period goals.

Earlier, Fife had been pinned into their own zone from the moment Armstrong won the game’s opening face off. It was a story of misplaced passes and failure to bury chances, not least on the PP.

Fife barely had a shot. Yet Steelerhockey can be contrary and Russ Moyer, a title-winner with Steelers, marked his return by setting up Flyers’ Brendan Brooks. Fife became more adventurous. For the most part they nullified Steelers offence and Moyer was playing out of his skin, forechecking and controlling the pace of play.

Eventually a equaliser came, with Mike Ratchuk setting up Levi Nelson who scored on his return from injury.

That was the turning point which led to a 3-0 final period romp, with goals from Rob Dowd and Tyler Mosienko and a late effort from Guillaume Desbiens.