SHEFFIELD STEELERS helped ease head coach Paul Thompson’s frustrations from Saturday’s defeat at Belfast Giants – maybe only slightly – with a thumping 8-1 win over Fife Flyers at Sheffield Arena.
A 2-1 defeat at the SSE Arena, courtesy of a controversial third-period winner from Steve Saviano, had left the Steelers boss fuming, but he will have been all smiles on home ice 24 hours later after his team showed once again what they are capable of doing to teams this season.
The problem has been – largely because of injury and suspension issues – doing that on a consistent basis.
But, as the Cardiff Devils edged ever closer to retaining their regular season title by bouncing back from Saturday’s loss at Manchester Storm with a 6-2 win at home to Belfast last night – the Steelers continue to target reaching their peak for when the post-season arrives.
Finishing second will, in theory, give the Steelers a more favourable play-off draw, but they need to overhaul Manchester, Belfast and Fife in order to achieve that.
Sticking eight goals past the recently-crowned Gardiner Conference champions from north of the border was a good place to start last night.
Matt Marquardt got the ball rolling when he struck inside the opening minute, the hosts doubling their advantage at 10.32 through defenceman Ben O’Connor, with Colton Fretter making it 3-0 at the first period break when he struck at 16.23.
The home side went 4-0 up through Miika Franssila early in the second period, talismanic forward Mathieu Roy adding to Fife’s misery to make it 5-0 at 25.21.
It was 7-0 after 40 minutes when teenager Liam Kirk’s eighth of the season at 31.16 was enhanced by Fretter’s second of the night – this time shorthanded – five minutes later.
Todd Dutiaume’s short-benched side finally got on the board through James Isaacs just 55 seconds into the third period, only for that to be cancelled out by Tim Wallace in the 52nd minute.
It was the big decision of the game and the officials got it wrong. I don’t think that’s a goal in any other league in the world.”Sheffield Steelers’ Paul Thompson
In Belfast the previous night, the game was level going into the third after Marquardt cancelled out Blair Riley’s early opener.
The game was decided in controversial circumstances, however, when Saviano careered into Steelers’ netminder Ervins Mustukovs after his initial shot was saved, the goal – to Thompson’s dismay – being allowed to stand.
“It was the big decision of the game and the officials got it wrong,” said Thompson. “I don’t think that’s a goal in any other league in the world.”