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.
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.
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.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Tom Barrasso.
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.
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.