SHEFFIELD STEELERS ensured their Elite League rivals will continue to sit up and take notice when they maintained their run of good form with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Manchester Storm.
Having been out of action for more than a week, the Steelers showed no signs of being ring rusty on a night which brought three power play goals from a team looking increasingly comfortable playing under the attentive eye of head coach Tom Barrasso.
It was a goal on the man-advantage at 15.12 from the stick of Josh Pitt – tipping in a Ben O’Connor shot – that saw the Steelers break the deadlock in front of a 7,000-plus crowd against former head coach Ryan Finnerty’s team.
They doubled their lead just after the halfway mark when Swedish forward Jonas Westerling slotted home a second power play marker of the evening when prodding in a rebound from close-range.
The visitors – frustrated by a 5-4 overtime defeat at home to defending champions Cardiff Devils the previous evening – got themselves back in the game in the 48th minute thanks to Evan Richardson’s scrambled effort.
But it wasn’t a one-goal game for long as, less than four minutes later, the Steelers made the game safe through Stefan Della Rovere’s sharp strike off a pinpoint feed from Evan McGrath.
It was then left to defenceman and assistant coach Mark Matheson to round off the scoring – again on the power play – when his speculative shot found its way past an unsighted Matt Ginn in the Storm goal.
Elsewhere, Steelers’ back-up netminder Brad Day enjoyed a winning start to his loan spell at Hull Pirates when he helped them to a 2-1 win in overtime at home to fierce rivals Sheffield Steeldogs in the NIHL North Cup.
It was a much-needed tonic for Jason Hewitt’s team, who had suffered a first league defeat of the season at Solway Sharks the previous night, going down 3-2.
It meant a disappointing weekend for Ben Morgan’s Steeldogs, however, as they had already lost out 5-1 at home to Telford Tigers in the North Cup the previous evening.