SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ head coach Paul Thompson had predicted a tough weekend in Scotland and so it proved.
After surrendering a four-goal lead at Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday night, the Steelers had to rely on the cool finishing of Jesse Schultz and John Armstrong to seal victory and the extra point in a nerve-jangling 6-5 shoot-out triumph.
But the warning signs at Murrayfield proved prophetic 24 hours later when the defending Elite League champions were thumped 4-0 by Dundee Stars, Thompson admitting his team – missing the suspended Zack Fitzgerald all weekend as well as Andreas Valdix (injury) and Mike Ratchuk (illness) – got what they deserved.
“We lacked urgency in the offensive zone, we had no jump,” said Thompson. “We slowed things down rather than speed things up – that played into their hands. I don’t blame the ‘D’ at all, we played with just the four of them all weekend and they gave me everything.
“We had more than enough chances to win the game and our best players didn’t have a good night in front of goal, we could have played until 2am and we wouldn’t have scored.”
After a goalless first period on Tayside, the deadlock was not broken until the 36th minute when Kevin Hart’s strike flew into the Steelers’ net.
A bad start to the third saw Brett Switzer double the home side’s advantage at 41.24 with a penalty shot before – heading into the final 10 minutes – two goals in as many minutes from Vinny Scarsella settled matters.
On Saturday, the Steelers flew into a 4-0 lead through Levi Nelson, debutant Yared Hagos, Armstrong and Mathieu Roy, the Capitals pulling one back through Pavel Vorobyev.
Roy’s second at 25.00 restored the four-goal advantage, with Garrett Milan again reducing the deficit for the hosts.
But two more from Vorobyev and an equaliser from Matt Tipoff with just five seconds remaining took the game into overtime and then a shoot-out where Schultz and Armstrong held their nerve.