HAVING already suffered nine defeats in 21 games this season, defeat at home to Edinburgh Capitals last night was something Sheffield Steelers simply could not afford.
Twice the Steelers have come unstuck against their Scottish rivals this season, once at the same Ice Sheffield venue as their latest meeting. But, on this occasion, it was third time lucky for Paul Thompson’s team.
In those two previous meetings, the Steelers had outshot Edinburgh by 102-55. Last night, it was a similar story - the difference this time was that they made their overwhelming superiority count.
The breakthrough still took a while though. Carsen Chubak was proving difficult to beat in the Capitals goal, but he was powerless to stop Zach Fitzgerald’s piledriver into the top corner at 14.57.
The lead was doubled through Mathieu Roy when he fired through a screen at 17.24.
The home side’s dominance continued in the second when, after holding off a rare Capitals attack, the Steelers made their powerplay count - quickly breaking down the other end where Tyler Mosienko fed Colton Fretter, who fired over Chubak’s left shoulder into the roof of the net.
Chubak was again helpless when Fretter got his second of the night, again on the powerplay, when left all alone in front of the net at 31.29.
Edinburgh came out stronger early in the third and got on the board through Trevor Gerling at 42.39, but any hope the visitors had of launching a serious comeback evaporated within two minutes when Fretter completed his hat-trick with a sublime piece of skill, weaving his way down on the Edinburgh goal before poking home past Chubak at 44.34.
Roy doubled his tally with less than two minutes remaining, a shorthanded effort giving him his 17th goal of the season.
In the end, when the final hooter sounded, it was simply a relief for Edinburgh, while the Steelers closed the gap on second-placed Nottingham Panthers to three points, although the East Midlands club do still have two games in hand.
“I’ve said all along, all I’m bothered about is the team getting the win - any goals for me are a bonus.”Sheffield Steelers’ Colton Fretter
Afterwards, hat-trick hero Fretter was quick to stress that his goal tally for the season - now standing at 10 - was of little concern to him.
“I’ve said all along, all I’m bothered about is the team getting the win - any goals for me are a bonus,” insisted Fretter.
“We’ve been focusing on minimising our mistakes and capitalising on our opportunities and against Edinburgh it was a good example of us doing that.
“We didn’t turn the puck over, didn’t give them odd-man rushes and when we had our chances we scored.”
Fretter admitted he was still in the recovery process following surgery in October on a sports hernia which saw him sidelined for several weeks.
But the 33-year-old Canadian said any discomfort he was currently experiencing was not having an adverse effect on his game.
“I wish I could say I was getting back to my best shape, but there’s still some pain and the doctor’s said it would last probably about two months,” he added.
“But it’s a different kind of pain and I know it’s not affecting me and I’m getting over it.”