WHAT you lose one weekend, you can quickly get back the next.
As often proves the case in UK ice hockey, Sheffield Steelers were able quickly to draw a line under a frustratingly blank Challenge Cup weekend last time out, with two hard-fought wins.
It’s been a while since our goalie has had to win us the game, but I thought ‘Moose’ was another level.Paul Thompson, Sheffield Steelers’ head coach.
The first success at home on Saturday night was of more value in the long run, a 5-3 triumph over Braehead Clan getting the Steelers’ Elite League regular season title defence off to a deserved winning start.
Last night, the Steelers followed that up with a 5-4 win in Group B of the Challenge Cup at Manchester Storm.
It was a far from simple affair, however, Jesse Schultz, John Armstrong and Andreas Valdix holding their nerve in a shoot-out to ensure Paul Thompson’s team drew level on points with group leaders Nottingham Panthers, who returned from their trip to Cardiff Devils with a handsome 3-1 victory.
Afterwards, head coach Thompson acknowledged goaltender Ervins Mustukovs had proved to be the difference between the sides.
“Moose was big for us tonight and we have to credit him with the win,” said Thompson. “We came under a lot of pressure, particuarly in the second period and he made a number of outstanding saves. It’s been a while since our goalie has had to win us the game, but I thought Moose was another level tonight.
“We got ourselves 4-1 ahead then we let them back in it but, once again, we got the job done and we found a way to win and earn ourselves four points over the weekend - two in the league and two in the Challenge Cup.
“We might have given up a three-goal lead but we still managed to find a way to get the extra point and that is what matsters.
“This isn’t an easy place to come and they have a talented and quick team.
“We could have ended up with nothing and giving that game away, but you have to try and focus on the positives.
“There was fights and there were hits and I think the crowd got real good value for money.”
It was Canadian-born Schultz who got the Steelers in front at 4.52 at Altrincham Ice Arena, only for the hosts to get back on level terms through Taylor Dickin’s shorthanded strike just under five minutes later.
In a fiesty second period that saw over 40 minutes worth of penalties handed out, the only goal came for the visitors when Mathieu Roy struck on the powerplay at 32.28.
Within seven minutes of the third period starting, the Steelers were 4-1 ahead through Christoffer Bjorklund and another powerplay effort from Roy and it remained that way until, with just under five minutes remaining, Manchester launched a stunning fightback.
Mario Valery-Trabucco struck twice in the space of a minute before, with just 57 seconds left, Patrik Valcak levelled.
But a goalless overtime produced the shoot-out that saw Steelers’ netminder Ervins Mustukovs deny Valery-Trabucco on the third round of shots.