Hull Pirates respond in style | Sheffield Steeldogs left to ponder what might have been

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HULL PIRATES produced a late rally to turn around their weekend in the English Premier League and seal a return to third place in the table.

Having slipped to a heavy 8-3 defeat to Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday, the pressure was on to respond against Swindon, the team who had replaced them in third place after their 7-6 win at home to Guildford Flames.

But after being pegged back to 4-4 with less than four minutes remaining, Jason Hewitt popped up with what proved to be the game-winning goal at 58.15, with empty net strikes from Andrej Themar and Stanislav Lascek within 36 seconds of each other sealing a deserved win.

Earlier, Aaron nell had given the visitors a fourth-minute lead, the Wildcats’ advantage being doubled by Adam Finlinson at 28.18.

Goals from Jon Kirk and Hewitt just after the halfway mark pulled Hull level only for Jan Kostal to put the visitors ahead again at 34.46 on the powerplay.

Themar and Lascek struck either side of the second period break to put Hull ahead, Jonas Hoog equalising at 56.43 before Hull’s late flurry of three goals.

On Saturday, a poor third period cost the Pirates having gone in after two sessions 3-1 adrift after nathan Salem had replied to strikes Darius Pliskauskas (2) and Petr Stepanek.

But four unanswered strikes - including two more from Plisjauskas - put the game beyond the visitors, for who Osman and Ryan Watt grabbed further consolation goals.

While Hull were able to end the weekend on a high, the same could not be said about Sheffield Steeldogs who ended the weekend empty-handed after following up Saturday night’[s 5-3 defeat at Basingstoke Bison with a 4-3 defeat on home ice to Milton Keynes Lightning.

A crazy opening period in Hampshire found the Steeldogs on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline after 20 minutes, Liam Charnock and Liam Kirk replying to strikes from Tomas Karpov, Ciaran Long and Daniel Lackey.

Pavel Mrna then equalised for the South Yorkshire club at 31.13 before Jan Jarabek restored the defending league champions’ advantage at 37.10.

As Sheffield pushed for the equaliser, the killer blow came at 55.18 when Karpov landed his second of the night.

On home ice against second-placed Lightning, the night started brightly for Greg Wood’s side when Andrew Hirst put them ahead on the powerplay at 7.49.

But in another lively first period, Craig Scott and Frantisek Bakrlik put the visitors ahead with two goals in as many minutes before MRna levelled in the 19th minute.

A powerplay strike from Bakrlik came at 32.23 but hope was restored for the hosts with less than 28 seconds left in the middle session when Mrna struck again with a shorthanded effort.

Chances came and went in a lively third period, but the crucial goal went the way of Milton Keynes, Adam Carr landing the crucial blow at 57.29.