IF at first you don’t succeed, try, try again ...
Dundee Stars coach Omar Pacha had indeed ‘tried, tried again’ - 28 times in fact after losing his first-ever encounter with Sheffield Steelers as a coach when in charge of the Hull Stingrays back on October 8, 2014.
But it is January 12 which now may be marked on the calendar for 32-year-old Pacha after finally - at the 30th attempt - he got the better of the Steelers.
His Dundee Stars side were good value for their 6-3 win over Tom Barrasso’s side at Sheffield Arena, too, a result which put the Scottish club level on points with their hosts, who currently occupy the eighth and final play-off spot.
Pacha and his players have an opportunity to go above the Steelers come Sunday evening when the two meet again in Dundee at 5pm on Sunday.
Even in his moment of glory, however, Pacha - one of the most genuine and likeable men in the game - tried to deflect attention away from himself, preferring to point out the fact that Saturday night’s result was Dundee’s first-ever win in Sheffield since they joined the Elite League at the start of the 2010-11 season.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s been a while,” said Pacha, brieflyreferring to his own personal losing streak against the Steelers in his post-match interview. “I think that’s the first road win against the Steelers, so that’s the biggest concern that I have, that we got that monkey off our back.
“It’s great for the organisation to get a win against one of the best organisations in the league so, hopefully, we can build on that when we play again on Sunday.”
As for Barrasso, he admitted to being “embarrassed” at the result, one which leaves his team in a fierce battle to make the post-season with five other teams, from second-bottom Manchester just two points behind, to Glasgow Clan, who are three points ahead but in fifth spot.
“We had a big crowd and we hadn’t been here in a while. I felt we had a reasonable week of preparation but from our goaltending to our penalty killing to our offensive zone play I thought we were poor,” said Barrasso. “I’m a little bit embarrassed. It was not what we were looking to do at all.”
Steelers had done the initial hard work, coming from two goals down to level at 3-3 early in the third period, only to then let the game slip from their grasp again, with insult being added to injury when former forward Matt Marquardt grabbed what proved to be the game-winning goal.
It was another power play goal that had got the Stars up and running at 2.09 when Favrizio Ricci tipped in a Drydn Dow past Jackson Whistle.
Just over four minutes later, the Stars doubled their lead when Dow fired home on a breakaway.
Mark Matheson, in the box on a hooking call for Ricci’s opener, made amends when he halved the deficit by steering home a pass from Jonas Westerling from in front at 13.08, but the Stars restored their advantage just over four minutes later when Ricci doubled his tally - again on the power play - when forcing home a rebound from in front.
It was some time before the hosts were on the scoresheet again, but John Armstrong’s tip-in from a Robert Dowd shot on the power play at 37.33 made it a one-goal game, that deficit being wiped out when defenceman Ryan Martinelli - again on the man advantage - was in the right place to fire home a rebound at 43.53.
But it was the special teams theme that would come back to haunt the Steelers in the final 20, Marquardt firing a rasper past Whistle from the right-side hash marks at 47.51.
As the Steelers pressed, they ran into more penalty trouble, Martinelli taking a delay of game call which allowed Francois Bouchard to force the puck home and make it 5-3 at 50.38.
Ricci then completed a miserable night for the Steelers - in total contrast to the understandable and justified celebrations on his own bench - when he completed his hat-trick with an empty net strike with 100 seconds remaining.