Positives taken from opening night defeat for Sheffield Steelers

Robert Farmer tucks the puck past Steelers' netminder Jackson Whistle to break the deadlock at the NIC. Picture: EIHL/Panthers.
Robert Farmer tucks the puck past Steelers' netminder Jackson Whistle to break the deadlock at the NIC. Picture: EIHL/Panthers.
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SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ head coach Paul Thompson chose to accentuate the positives despite seeing his team lose their opening game of the season to bitter rivals Nottingham Panthers.

While the majority of the other Elite League teams were taking part in their last round of pre-season exhibition games, the Steelers and Panthers battled out the first of many encounters to come between the two this season when they met in Group B of the Challenge Cup.

The Steelers went down 5-2 in the end, always chasing the game after Mark Hurtibuse doubled the home side’s lead early in the second period after Robert Farmer’s breakaway opener in the 11th minute.

The Steelers halved the deficit just before the end of the second period through a Josh Pitt tap-in, but further strikes came for Rich Chernomaz’s team in the third through Tommy Hughes, Jaynen Rissling and Brett Perlini, with Jordan Owens deflecting in Aaron Johnson’s shot in the 58th minute to give the Steelers a late consolation.

Disappointed though he clearly was, Thompson insisted he saw plenty of positives in his team’s play, while admiting there were also plenty of areas to work on ahead of next weekend’s league double-header against Milton Keynes Lightning.

“There were positives in our play when we got on our toes and went for it but, offensively, we’ve got to be a bit more ruthless like they were and maybe score a few ugly ones,” said Thompson.

Sheffield Steelers head coach, Paul Thompson.''Picture: Dean Woolley.

Sheffield Steelers head coach, Paul Thompson.''Picture: Dean Woolley.

“It’s going to be a tough league. we don’t like losing to these boys, but I don’t think 5-2 was a fair reflection of the game as a whole.

“I told the boys afterwards that there are a lot of good things to look at from this game, but also a lot of things that we will need to get better at.

“Overall, I think we created enough on the road to maybe come away with something but, essentially, they took advantage of their chances and we didn’t.”

“You can’t come on the road and give away two breakaways, two power play goals and an odd-man rush against a team like that, so we have got to get smarter in that department.”

I told the boys afterwards that there are a lot of good things to look at from this game, but also a lot of things that we will need to get better at.

Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson
Nottingham Panthers' head coach, Rich Chermonaz. Picture: Nottingham Panthers.

Nottingham Panthers' head coach, Rich Chermonaz. Picture: Nottingham Panthers.