Sheffield Steelers keep runners-up hopes alive by edging out Nottingham Panthers

Goalmouth action from the NIC on Friday night. Picture: Karl Denham.
Goalmouth action from the NIC on Friday night. Picture: Karl Denham.
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Sheffield Steelers kept alive their outside hopes of finishing as Elite league runners-up by winning 3-2 at Nottingham Panthers.

Paul Thompson’s side are now one point behind second-placed Belfast Giants ahead of tomorrow night’s final game of the regular season at home to Coventry Blaze (5pm).

Belfast face two tough games at newly-crowned champions Cardiff Devils tonight and tomorrow, with one win being enough to see them finish aboe the Steelers.

Starting with back-up netminder Brad Day, the visitors’ Levi Nelson cancelled out David Clarke’s fifth-minute opener for the hosts at the National Ice Centre before Colton Fretter put the Steelers ahead at 24.40.

Stephen Schultz levelled for the Panthers at 28.08 before Fretter’s second at 38.24 proved enough for both points with no goals coming at either end during a tight third period.

“It’s always a great place to win and tonight was no different.” said head coach Thompson.

Steelers' two-goal hero, Colton Fretter. Picture: Karl Denham.

Steelers' two-goal hero, Colton Fretter. Picture: Karl Denham.

“Moose (first-choice goaltender Ervins Mustukovs) has had a busy year and we wanted to give him a rest and reward Brad for his work, he was really solid, as was the whole team.

“I thought we saw out the third period well, it was good that Fretts’ scored a couple, that will do his confidence no harm whatsoever.”

The Steelers will finish their regular season campaign at home to Coventry Blaze on Sunday night (5pm), with the West Midlands club desperately struggling to seal a play-off place as they remain locked in a three-way battle with Manchester Storm and Dundee Stars for the two remaining spots.

Danny Stewart’s side currently sit outside the the play-off positions, on the same points as Manchester but one place below Omar Pacha’s side due to having less regulation wins. Dundee head into the weekend a point ahead of their two rivals with two games remaining – first trsavelling to Fife Flyers on Saturday before hosting the same opponents on 24 hours later.

I thought we saw out the third period well, it was good that Fretts’ scored a couple, that will do his confidence no harm whatsoever.

Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson.

Manchester’s final game sees them host Nottingham on Sunday night.