A local derby, a glut of goals, car crash defensive hockey - and a winning goal in the last second. This game had it all.
Steelers, last year’s beaten Challenge Cup finalists, came back from 3-0 down to beat Nottingham in the Group match.
Levi Nelson, who scored the goal that won the Play Offs last season, was on hand to keep his reputation as the big game decider.
At 59;59 it wasn’t a bad time to go in front for the first time.
It’s only the beginning of the season, but if other ‘derby’ games are anywhere near as good as this (or as bad defensively) fans are in for a treat.
Steelers, who had started off their weekend with a 6-3 win at Manchester Storm, were overrun by three first-period goals in under seven minutes at the Arena.
Nottingham’s first attack saw Robert Farmer score a tap-in from a neat Josh Shalla pass.
Steelers’ second line were outskated and Yann Sauve fired in from between the circles.
The fourth line were taken to the cleaners at 10;05, Mark Derlago made it 3-0 to the visitors. Notts were more offensively fluent and they’d made it tell.
Game over? Not according to Robert Dowd and Ben O’Connor.
It looked like a chance had come and gone for Dowd but he persevered and roofed a shot to get Steelers back in it at 13;48. And with seconds to go on the period, O’Connor unleashed a trademark slapshot past Sam Gospel, who played a single game for Sheffield in 2014-15.
Steelers didn’t deserve to concede another but when Mark Matheson’s clearance didn’t clear the zone Berlini cashed in.
Again, this time at 2-4, it looked like a miracle was needed.
It appeared in the form of goals from Jonas Westerling and John Armstrong to put the game level.
Would we now see some defensive hockey? Not a chance. Alexander Mokshantsev put Panthers ahead again but that was neutralised by a home debut goal from Juha Koivisto at 35;31.
The goals then dried up . Where before both teams had been vulnerable around their crease, there was more solidity.
Sheffield seemed more likely to score and they did with a second to go - big game hunter Nelson netting a last gasp winner. Ridiculous - but brilliant.
Sunday 10th September
Coventry Blaze 1 Manchester Storm 4
Milton Keynes Lightning 6 Belfast Giants 3
Challenge Cup Group A
Sheffield Steelers 6 Nottingham Panthers 5
Challenge Cup Group C
Guildford Flames 8 Cardiff Devils 4
Scottish Elite Cup @ Murrayfield
3rd/4th place match
Dundee Stars 0 Edinburgh Capitals 3
Fife Flyers 1 Braehead Clan 3