WITH just 38 seconds remaining in the game between Braehead Clan and Hull Stingrays, it looked like being the perfect evening for Sheffield Steelers.
Having confidently despatched second-bottom Edinburgh Capitals 5-3 at Ice Sheffield, Gerad Adams’s team were left hoping Hull could hold on to a 2-1 lead in Glasgow to secure a second successive victory at the home of league leaders Braehead.
Such an outcome would have put Steelers back to within a point of Ryan Finnerty’s team with a game in hand.
But, from going so close to ending the night with nothing, Finnerty’s players were left celebrating after a Neil Trimm equaliser at 59.22 ensured overtime and then a shoot-out, where Leigh Salters held his nerve to ensure two points for the home side.
Cory Tanaka had given Hull the lead at 21.08, only for Scott Pitt to equalise with a short-handed strike at 25.35. But Dominic Osman fired home on the powerplay 25 seconds later and that looked like being the game-winning goal until the late drama unfolded.
Afterwards, player-coach Omar Pacha - without the servies of captain Matty Davies and forward Jordan Knox - admitted he had mixed emotions.
“I am really happy to get a point but disappointed at the same time to be 38 seconds away from a big win,” he said.
“We had a great chance on an empty-net but their ‘D’ man made a great stop and they went down the other end and scored. It was a tough ask to play short and Tom Ralph got a regular shift and helped us out there. Some of the guys are banged up and it is a credit to them for sticking to it.
“They put a lot of pressure on us throughout the game but we did a pretty good job in keeping them to the outside for the most part. But it was a tough way to lose.”
While the manner of their defeat will sting, Hull still secured a vital point and moved to within two points of sixth-placed Fife Flyers with four games in hand on their Gardiner Conference rivals.
Fife visit Hull on Sunday night.
In Sheffield, Steelers were always in control of affairs and were 3-1 ahead by the end of the first period through goals from Tomas Petruska, Robert Dowd and Mathieu Roy.
Jeff Legue made it 4-1 at 23.18, with Roy getting his second of the night – and 29th of the season – in the 50th minute.