Challenge Cup title continuing to prove elusive for Sheffield Steelers

SHEFFIELD STEELERS' hopes of lifting their first Elite League Challenge Cup title must wait for at least another year after they were edged out by Guildford Flames.

Rob Dowd tries to find a way past Chris Carrozzi in the Guildford goal on Wednesday night. Picture courtesy of John Uwins/EIHL.

Over an entertaining two legs - the Steelers went out 9-8 on aggregate after the Flames enjoyed a 5-4 win at The Spectrum on Wednesday night.

Steelers started with John Armstrong in the line up for the first time after his return to the club was sealed at the weekend, along with Swedish defenceman Jonas Fredriksson, who has been training with the club all season, while also playing with NIHL outfit Sutton Sing. It meant with 14 imports icing, Anthony DeLuca was a healthy scratch.

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Having dragged themselves back level with just eight seconds remaining in last week's first leg of their quarter-final tie against Paul Dixon's team at Sheffield Arena, the Steelers' hopes were further buoyed when they struck first in a frenetic opening period.

UNDER PRESSURE: Matt Climie's net is threatened by Guildford at The Spectrum on Wednesday night. Picture courtesy of John Uwins/EIHL.

Tom Barrasso's team got off the mark at 4.58 when a Ben O'Connor shot was redirected past Chris Carrozzi in the Flames goal by Justin Buzzeo. The hosts were soon level, however, when John Dunbar struck at 8.37, only for the Steelers to restore their advantage 36 seconds later through Robert Dowd.

Yet again, the Flames came back to level, Calle Ackered striking at 10.05 before his team took the lead for the first time just over five minutes later through Kruise Reddick.

That lead was doubled just before the halfway point when Jamie Crooks found a way past Matt Climie at 28.39, although the Steelers gave themselves hope when Tanner Eberle made it a one-goal game at 46.19.

Crucially, the next goal came at the other end when Jesse Craige gave the Flames some much-needed breathing space at 53.53. Eberle struck for a second time on the night at 57.24 to ensure there were some frayed nerves in the closing moments, but that was as close as the Steelers could get.