Sheffield Steelers show grit to record vital double

IT WAS a slog at times and it was not pretty, but Sheffield Steelers did what they had to do this weekend by getting back to winning ways.

Sheffield Steelers John Armstrong tries to get a move going against Milton Keynes Lightning (Picture: Dean Woolley).

A five-game losing streak had seen the five-time Elite League champions drop to second-bottom in the standings ahead of their home-and-away double-header against Milton Keynes Lightning – the only team beneath them.

The four points on offer were gladly taken by the Steelers when they followed up a 4-1 win in Buckinghamshire on Saturday night with a 2-1 triumph on home ice 24 hours later.

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But, despite their maximum return, they remain one point outside the top eight play-off spots.

Manchester Storm earned a point in a 4-3 overtime loss at home to Coventry Blaze, who have replaced the Steelers as the 10th-placed team, although they are level on points.

Next up for Tom Barrasso’s side – who edged out the Lightning yesterday through goals from Anthony DeLuca and captain Jonathan Phillips – is the ultimate test, a visit to South Yorkshire on Wednesday night from champions-elect Cardiff Devils.

Over the weekend Andrew Lord’s dominant team took a massive step towards a third straight regular season title with two wins at home to nearest rivals Belfast Giants, who now trail them in second place by a daunting nine points.

The two previous games this season against Cardiff have ended in miserable failure for the Steelers, a 6-2 home loss in September being followed a month or so later by a 7-1 hammering in South Wales shortly after Barrasso had taken over from Paul Thompson.

“It’s going to be a good test for us, but it should be good fun,” said Barrasso. “Those are the kinds of games which you should want to play in. We played them a very long time ago and they made us look very silly down in their building early in my tenure.

“That is still a fresh memory for me, but hopefully we can give them a little bit better competition this time.”

Great Britain Under-20s sealed a bronze medal at the Division 2 Group A World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia.

With Sheffield Steelers’ duo Jordan Griffin and Kieran Brown involved – along with former Steeler Liam Kirk – a 7-2 win over Spain on Saturday proved enough for a third-placed finish after hosts and gold medal winners Estonia had thrashed Romania 9-1.