With three Champions Hockey League defeats to their name already this season, Paul Thompson’s side returned to the “bread and butter” of the Elite League, starting their Challenge Cup Group B campaign on a positive note.
Mathieu Roy returned from injury in welcome fashion, scoring his side’s first two goals, the second to tie the game after they had fallen behind to early strikes from Cody Cartier and Mark Heatley.
Roy’s second effort came on the powerplay at 23.11 and was quickly followed by Tyler Mosienko’s first of what became a hat-trick night for him 82 seconds later.
Mosienko doubled the hosts’ lead in the 29th minute and it stayed at 4-2 until the visitors roared back to level early in what was a fiesty third period. Mario Valery-Trabucco struck at 43.32, although it wasn’t until early in the 56th minute that Matt Bissonnette squared matters.
But the Steelers rallied and it only took them 52 seconds to get their noses in front again, Levi Nelson slotting home after good work by Markus Nilsson.
As Manchester pushed forward in search of an equaliser, goalie Mike Clemente was pulled, leaving an opportunity for Mosienko to find the empty net for his hat-trick strike.
“It didn’t start the way we wanted,” said head coach Thompson afterwards. “We are a little bit soft around our net at the moment, but we know that as a group and we need to get a little bit smarter in that area.
“We got back level then, in the second period we started to take over and at 4-2 I expected to go and get a fifth and sixth goal – but we didn’t do that.
“We let them back in and gave another odd-man rush up. Then I wanted to see a reaction from our team and we got it – Levi coming up with a big game winner.”
Thompson said he felt Manchester were a tougher opponent than the one which finished outside the play-off places under player-coach Omar Pacha in its debut EIHL campaign last season.
“They move the puck better out from the back than they did last year, they are bigger and stronger and a little more fiesty up front and while they haven’t got the speed, I think they work harder as a group,” said Thompson.
“Ultimately, we came back strong from two down but then let them back in after we got our noses in front. But we were good enough to seal the game in those final four minutes or so and that shows the good character we have got in the room.
“We were far from perfect but, most importantly, we got the win.”