Edinburgh Capitals proved something of a thorn in the side for Sheffield Steelers during 2015-16 and, in two meetings north of the border this season, had proved formidable opposition once again, Steelers requiring a shoot-out to win 6-5 in the league at Murrayfield, before - on Wednesday - relying on a late Guillaume Desbiens strike to finish the first leg of their Challenge Cup quarter-final all-square at 2-2.
Needless to say, there was good reason for Steelers’ fans to be slightly concerned over their team’s chances of reaching the semi-finals to face either Nottingham Panthers or Braehead Clan – particularly when you add in the fact Swedish forwards Yared Hagos and Andreas Valdix were missing a second game due to injury.
They needn’t have worried, the Steelers delivering a dominant powerhouse performance that, after a tight opening few minute, blew Edinburgh away, much to the delight of head coach Paul Thompson.
“I thought we played a really strong, professional game,” said Thompson. “We were strong in all zones tonight and I thought we could have been 3 or 4 up in the first period with the chances that we created.
“But we were able to ground them down and we had big performances from everybody and I thought everybody had a strong game tonight.
“We moved the puck well and scored some good goals.”
The deadlock was broken in the 10th minute when Levi Nelson pounced on the powerplay, although the man advantage also benefitted the Capitals when Michal Dobron levelled six minutes later.
A dominant second period for the Steelers effectively settled the tie and it was that man Nelson who was the difference again initially, arriving down the right at 22.08 to slap the puck into the top left-hand corner thanks to a neat set up by Markus Nilsson.
It was a special strike that put the Steelers two clear at 27.21 when Robert Dowd stormed down the right wing before unleashing a rocket that flew past Travis Fullerton’s right shoulder.
Colton Fretter, Nelson and Dowd all went close again and a slick move involving John Armstrong and Jesse Schultz saw the latter picked out an unmarked Andres Franzon ghosting in at the back post to poke the puck home past a helpless Fullerton in the 33rd minute.
It was Armstrong who made it 5-1 just over three minutes into the third when finishing off a neat 1-2 between himself and Mathieu Roy, but the biggest cheer of the night came 10 minutes later when teenage apprentice Liam Kirk grabbed his second goal in a Steelers shirt - poking home from a Fretter feed.
With only 83 seconds remaining, Desbiens tapped in a rebound to complete the rout.