EPL: Double delight for Sheffield Steeldogs as Hull Pirates keep in touch

SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS player-coach Greg Wood believes his players’ willingness to buy into the team ethic will only strengthen their claims for an EPL play-off spot.

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The South Yorkshire club put further distance between themselves and the bottom two at the weekend when they followed up a 4-1 home win over Guildford Flames with a 4-3 triumph on the road at Bracknell Bees.

The second result could prove to be more crucial for Wood’s team given it came against a Bees team sitting one place and seven points below them in the standings.

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Bracknell, however, have two games in hand - making this weekend’s double header between the two teams even more crucial.

“What impressed me at the weekend is everybody is buying into the systems and buying into what we want to achieve on the ice,” said Wood.

“Players are really stepping up and fitting into the game-plans. This weekend has seen a real team effort, strength throughout the team.

“The two games this weekend against Bracknell are huge for us – they could create a gap between us and the teams at the bottom.”

It was Guildford who broke the deadlock at Ice Sheffield on Saturday when Jens Eriksson fired home just after the halfway mark.

Steeldogs levelled just before the second period break through Arnoldas Bosas and sealed both points with three unanswered strikes in the third.

Lubomir Korhon edged the home side ahead at 48.58 before Stanislav Lascek made it 3-1 at 53.57. With just 92 seconds left, Andrew Hirst wrapped up the scoring.

Korhon and Hirst were on target again the following day at Bracknell to give Steeldogs a 2-0 lead at the first break. Tom Squires increased the advantage at 29.27, although Ivan Antonov hit back for the hosts just before the end of the period.

Lewis Bell restored the three-goal lead at 47.58 and it proved to be just enough, although the visitors endured a nervous final 10 minutes after strikes from Milan Kostourek and Matt Foord.

Hull Pirates endured a tough time at Basingstoke Bison on Saturday night and headed home on the back of a 7-2 defeat before bouncing back 24 hours later to deny Swindon Wildcats 5-4 in overtime on home ice.

Dominic Osman’s side found themselves 2-0 down after a little more than two minutes in Hampshire through strikes from Ciaran Long and Joseph Greener, although they halved the deficit at 11.42 through their player-coach.

It was 3-1 at the break thanks to a 16th-minute effort from Tomas Karpov and the hosts stretched their lead to four goals after the second period through two goals from former Edinburgh Capitals hotshot Rene Jarolin.

Aaron Connolly made it 6-1 at 47.39 and although Pasi Salonen scored a consolation effort just over a minute later, the rout was completed in the final minute by Bison’s Ryan Watt.

In front of their own fans the following night, the Pirates enjoyed a 2-0 first period lead through goals from Jordan Fisher and Warren Tait.

Two goals in as minutes around the halfway mark, however, and Swindon were level - Jan Kostal’s powerplay effort being added to by Aaron Nell’s strike at 32.09.

The Pirates were ahead by the next break, though, when Joshua Taylor-Gent fired home at 35.03 and the home side restored their two-goal lead on the powerplay at 49.33 through Salonen.

But fourth-placed Swindon made it a one-goal game again within a minute through Tomas Malasinski and were level for a second time when Jonas Hoog scored a shorthanded effort at 52.59.

That was how it stayed until just over three minutes into overtime when Tommi Laine proved the home team’s hero with a game-winning powerplay strike.