Continental Cup: Impressive Sheffield Steelers come up just short in Minsk

SECOND COMING: Sheffield Steelers' players celebrate Jonas Westerling's 34th-minute goal against Ritten Sport in Minsk. Picture: Dean Woolley.
SECOND COMING: Sheffield Steelers' players celebrate Jonas Westerling's 34th-minute goal against Ritten Sport in Minsk. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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IN THE end, Sheffield Steelers left themselves with too much to do in their bid to win the Continental Cup FInal in Minsk.

A 5-1 defeat on the opening night to Kazakhstan's Nomad Astana put them in a tough position to bounce back, something they managed to achieve in the previous round in Denmark, but in the Belarussian capital, there was no prize for coming second.

Paul Thompson's team - hampered by the early loss to a serious knee injury of Robert Dowd in Friday's opener - did indeed bounce back over the course of the weekend to prove they can compete with their European cousins.

They can count themselves hugely unlucky to lose out to hosts, pre-tournament favourites and eventual winners Yunost Minsk 5-4 on Saturday night, three times coming from behind before falling to a late goal.

But they got the win their efforts deserved in Sunday afternoon's closing game, goals from Swedish imports Andreas Jamtin and Jonas Westerling helping defeat Italy's Ritten Sport 2-0 to finish in third place overall for a bronze medal.

Of course, that meant no qualification for next season's Champions Hockey League after missing out on top spot in the four-team, round-robin tournament in the former Soviet republic - but they still have a chance to accomplish that when they return home to resume their Elite League campaign.

“I think we did a good game yesterday and wanted to bounce back on that and be disciplined and stay out of the box although we’ve been there today too," said goalscorer Westerling.

"We worked hard as a group. We slipped a bit away in the first game but we did well against Minsk, maybe we deserved a bit more than third place. Yesterday we were good and today okay."

OPENING GAMBIT: Andreas Jamtin, far right, fires home the puck to give Sheffield Steelers the lead against Ritten Sport in Minsk. Picture: Dean Woolley.

OPENING GAMBIT: Andreas Jamtin, far right, fires home the puck to give Sheffield Steelers the lead against Ritten Sport in Minsk. Picture: Dean Woolley.