SINCE joining Sheffield Steelers a little over two years ago, Levi Nelson has made a habit of producing big moments for the club.
Granted, he will have to do something pretty special to cap the winner he conjured in the second period of overtime of the Elite League play-off final in April to floor Cardiff Devils.
But, it seems, he’s prepared to give it a good go.
Last night, in the opening home game of the 2017-18 season and with just one second of regulation time remaining against arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge Cup, he pounced to score the winner.
It capped a stirring comeback from Paul Thompson’s team, who found themselves 3-0 down after just 10 minutes against a Panthers team who arrived in South Yorkshire full of confidence after such an impressive start to their Champions Hockey League campaign left them top of their group.
The Steelers managed to rebound significantly from their early malaise by the end of the first when Ben O’Connor’s strike reduced the deficit to just one after Rob Dowd had got the home side on the board at 13.48.
The Panthers’ Brett Perlini made it 4-2 early in the second, but the Steelers were level just after the halfway point through John Armstrong, team-mate Jonas Westerling having already made it 4-3.
Once again the Panthers got themselves in front, this time at 34.30 through Alexander Mokshantsev but, once again, the Steelers rallied quickly to level via new boy Juha Koivisto.
Given the goal-scoring mayhem that had characterised the second period, it was something of a culture shock for fans and players alike when no further goals came as the teams entered the final minute and with overtime beckoning.
But Nelson clearly had other ideas, producing another memorable moment.
The result capped a fine opening weekend for the Steelers, who 24 hours earlier returned home from across the Pennines on the back of a 6-3 win at Manchester Storm, in their opening Cup group game.
It was the Steelers who had got out of the blocks the quickest, putting themselves 3-0 ahead by the 28th minute through Mathieu Roy, Colton Fretter and Dowd.
Dallas Ehrhardt and Ryan Trenz hit back for Manchester, before a powerplay strike from Andreas Valdix at 39.04 made it 4-2.
A short-handed strike from Chris Auger gave the home team hope early in the third, but the Steelers got the job done through further strikes from Roy and Westerling.