SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ head coach Paul Thompson was left to rue his team’s poor discipline as they slumped to a 9-1 defeat on their Champions Hockey League debut in Sweden.
Clear underdogs in Group N, the Steelers had acquitted themselves well against last year’s runners-up Frolunda Indians, trailing just 2-0 after two periods at the Scandanavium Arena in Gothenburg.
But the Swedes – regarded as one of the top sides in Europe – came out firing in the third, plundering five goals in under six minutes to put the game out of sight.
Colton Fretter eventually got Steelers on the scoresheet when he made it 7-1 with a penalty shot at 50.59, but the hosts were able to add two more goals on the powerplay – making it five in total on the night – as Steelers continued to run into penalty trouble.
In all, the Steelers ran up 26 minutes in penalties, while Frolunda took three penalties all night.
“We talked about our discipline, and it wasn’t good enough,” admitted Thompson.
“We started to die off in the last period. For two periods we battled hard, but we hung our goalie out to dry and I’m not very happy about it.
“I think it’s a big lesson for everyone in our locker room – you didn’t see Frolunda taking penalties today, and it’s a big eye-opener for my locker room now.
“We will get better with our conditioning.”
Henrik Tommernas opened the scoring on the night, the hosts’ first powerplay goal coming at 17.10 with Steelers’ defenceman Zack Fitzgerald in the box for delaying the game.
Frolunda’s second goal came when they were short-handed, created a 2-on-1 turnover with Mats Rosseli-Olsen’s shot being deflected in past a helpless Tyler Plante.
Outshot 25-10 in the first two periods, any hopes that the Steelers had of halving the deficit were dealt a shattering blow early in the third, when Artturi Lehkonen got on the scoresheet at 41.49.
Then the floodgates opened as Frolunda showed their superior quality.
Tommernas’s second at 43.35 made it 4-0 and then a slashing penalty on Levi Nelson allowed the hosts to add a fifth through Patrik Karlsson at 44.18. Less than a minute later, it was 6-0 when Robin Figren plundered another powerplay goal.
A seventh came at 47.42 through Johan Sundstrom and, although Fretter’s strike brought some respite, it was only temporary with Tommernas making it 8-1 at 55.03 with the Swedes enjoying a two-man advantage after penalties incurred by Ben O’Connor and Fitzgerald.
With just under a minute remaining, Sebastian Stalberg completed the scoring for the evening.
The Steelers now make their way to Finland to take on JYP Jyvasklya on Saturday before playing host to both teams later this month.
Fellow Elite League side Braehead Clan - coached by former Steelers’ boss Ryan Finnerty – also suffered on Thursday night, going down 10-2 to Vaxjo Lakers,