PAUL THOMPSON insists a third straight Elite League title remains possible, despite his Sheffield Steelers side suffering a further blow to their chances at the weekend.
A 5-4 loss at Nottingham Panthers was the last thing the defending champions needed, particularly with top two Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants both winning their opening games of the weekend.
The Steelers bounced back from their disappointment at the National Ice Centre with a 3-0 victory at Edinburgh Capitals last night and their cause in chasing down the top two was helped slightly further after second-placed Belfast saw their seven-game winning streak ended in a 9-5 defeat at Fife Flyers.
But leaders Cardiff followed up Saturday night’s 6-3 win over Coventry Blaze with a 3-0 home triumph over Nottingham and momentum very much rests with them, the Steelers trailing in third by eight points.
Just over five minutes into the third period in Murrayfield, Robert Dowd grabbed a second of the night to add to his 17th-minute opener, with Levi Nelson completing a competent win at 54.47, much to the delight of head coach Thompson.
“This title chase is still on,” said a defiant Thompson. “There are twists and turns still ahead. We have to remain difficult to beat and the wins will follow.
“I do like the way we made ourselves hard to beat tonight. In fact that is how we played in the two games before Nottingham.
“When we play that way we have success. I was pleased with all four lines, they all created.”
On Saturday, a nightmare opening 20 minutes for the Steelers left them trailing 4-0 at the break, a deficit which proved too much to overhaul – just.
But a storming comeback after the break put Steelers back in it. Guillaume Desbiens getting the ball rolling at 25.16 before Andreas Valdix made it 4-2 just over three minutes later, then Valdix smashed in his second with 54 seconds left in the period. But David Clarke issued a swift response just 71 seconds into the third period and despite a fine, rasping strike from Colton Fretter at 47.02, Steelers lost out.