Sheffield Steelers bounced back from a calamitous weekend against Belfast Giants by recording a 5-4 victory against Dundee Stars.
In his programme notes before the two games against the Giants, Steelers coach Paul Thompson described Ice Sheffield as having “no atmosphere, no home qualities,” but Steelers’ second home was quickly rocking as Steelers took the lead in 38 seconds. Jayce Coyle had the first shot in anger from the blue line and Mathieu Roy deflected the puck goalwards.
Driven on by the Belfast result, Steelers’ looked imperious, and had a second after eight minutes. Robert Dowd found himself behind the net and played the puck across the crease to see it deflected in by the leg of Stars goalie Joe Fallon.
But during the first intermission, the paper over the cracks ruptured.
Just 28 seconds into the second period, the Stars, still on the powerplay, found themselves back in the game. Justin Faryna’s shot was blocked by the kicker of Steelers netminder Evins Mustukovs, and Kevin Bruijsten couldn’t miss.
This set the tone for a manic period of ice hockey that saw six goals, six penalties and a penalty shot.
While the Stars’ were shorthanded, Cale Tanaka broke away, stole past the defence and was tripped by Mustukovs in the crease, but the man known as ‘Moose’ stuck out a hoof to keep out Tanaka’s resulting penalty shot.
The visitors had the wind in their sails. Their powerplay unit was out again when Andreas Valdix was guilty of interference, and Stars’ man of the match Vinny Scarsella scored the goal of the game, lugging it from the neutral zone, past a defender and a helpless Mustukovs.
The ghosts of the previous weekend were haunting the crowd, and things got worse. Roy almost scored a shorthanded goal while Levi Nelson was in the box for holding the stick, but as soon as it was even strength again, Scarsella made it 3-2. A flying puck hit Steelers’ Anders Franzon in the neck, taking him out of the game, and leaving the ice wide open for Bruijsten to square to Scarsella.
The frenzied play continued. Mike Ratchuk hit the pipes for Steelers, before Nelson had it in the net, beating replacement netminder Craig Holland on his glove side in a shot that took the arena by surprise.
Those who thought a return to parity would calm the game were wrong. Cameron McGiffin received two minutes for tripping, but when Dowd hit the inside of the post it seemed like the opportunity had gone. Technically it had. But as McGiffin’s skate touched ice, Roy scored Steelers’ fourth, having two bites at the cherry after Ben O’Connor’s initial shot was saved.
The sixth goal in fourteen minutes came courtesy of more excellent Scarsella play. He broke down the right, played the puck into the crease, and Joey De Concilys poked it under Mustukovs for a shorthanded effort to tie the game.
A sedate final period drifted towards overtime, but the deadlock was broken by Steelers’ man of the match Nelson. On their seventh powerplay of the game, Steelers finally got the unit to click. The puck fell kindly to the Canadian in the middle of the Stars’ zone and he smashed the puck high for the game winning goal.
It might have been six, as Craig Moore produced a brilliant piece of defending to stop Dowd from tapping in a rebound, and Colton Fretter shot over the empty net on the buzzer.
It was a bizarre game and a far from perfect performance from Steelers, but the result keeps their slim title chances intact.