Sheffield Steelers coach Thompson remains optimistic despite opening setback

TOUGH NIGHT: Matt Marquardt goes through a Minsk player in the third period. Picture: Dean Woolley'.
TOUGH NIGHT: Matt Marquardt goes through a Minsk player in the third period. Picture: Dean Woolley'.
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PAUL THOMPSON was left to rue his side’s inability to stay out the penalty box as their Continental Cup campaign started with a 7-1 defeat to Yunost Minsk in Denmark.

Despite the nightmare start, the Steelers can still qualify for the final round of the competition in January if they win their next two games.

But after finding themselves 3-0 down at the end of the first period, it was always going to be an uphill battle to close the gap on their Belarussian opponents.

Four of Minsk’s goals came on the powerplay, much to Thompson’s frustration, although the former GB head coach remained confident his team could bounce back in their final two group games against hosts Rungsted tonight and Kurbads Riga tomorrow.

“Every team I’ve taken into these kind of competitions, every single team, whether it be club or national, we talk about discipline and making sure we don’t take anything stupid.

“We took three or four minors tonight and we’re not going to get success if we continue like that.

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

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

“We talked about staying out of the penalty box but they scored four powerplay goals.

“There were too many easy goals tonight, but I think 5-on-5 we matched them. This was a hard lesson, a kick up the backside and it hurt us.

“Some of our guys had good nights, some didn’t, but I got the response I wanted in the third and we know we’ve got to win the next two games to have a chance of making it through to the final.”

The Steelers found themselves 1-0 down through Alexander Kogalev with just 80 seconds on the clock, Minsk doubling their lead just over six minutes later thanks to Nikita Mitskevich.

There were too many easy goals tonight, but I think 5-on-5 we matched them. This was a hard lesson, a kick up the backside and it hurt us.

Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson.

A tripping call on Colton Fretter was costly in the 14th minute when Viktor Turkin made the subsequent powerplay count. Konstantin Zakharov then made it 4-0 early in the second, before Pavel Razvadovski added another powerplay strike at 29.08. Marek Slovak made it 6-0 – again on the powerplay – at 39.06.

With Brad Day replacing Ervins Mustukovs in the Steelers’ net, Mathieu Roy reduced the deficit at 51.28 on the powerplay, but the Belarussians had the final say through Turkin’s second of the night when enjoying a 5-on-3 powerplay with just 31 seconds remaining.

HELPING HAND: Sheffield Steelers' forward Colton Fretter recevives treatment on the bench.' Picture: Dean Woolley.

HELPING HAND: Sheffield Steelers' forward Colton Fretter recevives treatment on the bench.' Picture: Dean Woolley.

Over but not quite out: Sheffield Steelers' Levi Nelson tumbles through mid-air close to the Yunost Minsk net. 'Picture: dean woolley

Over but not quite out: Sheffield Steelers' Levi Nelson tumbles through mid-air close to the Yunost Minsk net. 'Picture: dean woolley