GERAD ADAMS said it was “mission accomplished” for Sheffield Steelers after they secured a maximum return across two nights at the Motorpoint Arena.
It had been almost three weeks since the Steelers had iced at their natural home before Saturday night but, once the weekend was over, they were four points better off and just one behind the two teams who had visited South Yorkshire in Belfast Giants and Braehead Clan. They also have three games in hand on the top two.
A 4-2 win over Belfast on Saturday was followed by a 4-1 triumph over Braehead 24 hours later. Combined with a Sunday night reverse in Belfast for Nottingham Panthers, Gerad Adams’s team were able to leapfrog their fiercest rivals into third place.
Tyler Mosienko was the star of the show on Sunday, scoring the opening goal of the night at 6.07 and then two more in the second period just 29 seconds apart.
Scott Pitt equalised for the Clan just 24 seconds into the first shift of the second period as the Steelers fell asleep, but it was Mosienko that put the home side back in front with his second at 31.14
Any fears of the Clan sneaking back into the game all but disappeared 29 seconds later when the 30-year-old Canadian completed his hat trick 31.43.
Despite some fierce pressure from Ryan Finnerty’s visitors, with just 2.17 remaining Jay Latulippe sealed the win with just 2.17 remaining.
On Saturday, Steelers got off to the perfect start against Belfast when Mathieu Roy hammered home after just 95 seconds.
And it was Adams’s side that took a 2-0 advantage in at the first break when Mike Forney doubled the lead at 17.37.
Craig Peacock halved the deficit when he beat Frank Doyle at 21.40, but Sheffield hit back right away with Ben O’Connor scoring at 23.08.
The Giants again pulled to within one when, with Mark Thomas off for hooking, Ray Sawada scored on the powerplay at 35.30.
In a nail-biting third period, Steelers’ Doyle stood tall and, once Steve Thornton pulled his goalie late in the game, Jason Hewitt and Jonathan Phillips combined to set up Mosienko for the empty net goal for a 4-2 triumph.
Understandably, Adams was a happy man after the Braehead victory following two big results.
“It was a very good weekend for us, to take out four points from the two games was huge,” said Adams. “We accomplished our goal.
“I can plan all I want each weekend but it is down to the players to go out and execute and they all played extremely well.”
“The Mosienko line was good (with Robert Dowd and Jonathan Phillips). Tyler is an extremely hard hockey player to play against in the sense that he’s always in on pucks and he’s very quick across the ice. He got his rewards against Braehead and he’s been a real bright spot for us.
“Frank Doyle was exceptional again against Braehead and I felt our defence played extremely well again. We got a little bit stretched in the second period but we were able to calm it down for the third and I don’t think we were ever really in danger.”
Click on the PLAY button at the top of the page to see Steelers’ 4-1 victory over Braehead Clan.
Hull Stingrays ensured their Challenge Cup future remained in their own hands with a nail-biting 4-3 win on a shoot-out at home against Coventry Blaze.
Victory for Coventry after their 4-3 win in Group B at home to Hull the previous night would have ended the Stingrays’ hopes of making the quarter-finals.
But after the game at Hull Arena on Sunday night finished 3-3 after 60 minutes, Hull’s Zach Hervato was the only scorer in the shoot-out with his goaltender David Brown saving twice to earn the extra point.
The result means Hull need to win against Cardiff Devils in their final group game when the South Wales club visit East Yorkshire on January 3. Should they be successful, a last-eight tie against Group A winners Braehead Clan awaits.
Russell Cowley fired Blaze in front with just four seconds remaining of the opening period. Carl Lauzon levelled for Stingrays with a powerplay marker at 21.57 - his third goal in as many games - but Rory Rawlyk nudged Blaze back into the lead at 25.42.
Two goals inside 80 seconds from Hervato (47.39) and captain Matty Davies (48.59) then saw Stingrays take the lead for the first time.
It continued Davies’ stunning point-scoring streak which extended to seven games - posting 12 points - and also registering six goals in his last five matches.
Former Hull forward Jereme Tendler then tied the game up at 3-3 at 58.16 before a blank overtime period produced the shoot-out where Hervato and Brown produced their heroics.
“I wish we could have won in regulation but a win is a win,” said Hull player-coach Omar Pacha. ”We showed a lot of character going into the third period 2-1 down.
“In the shoot-out, it was our first of the year, and I was really glad to see Browny stop all three. It was also great to see Herv step up and get a big goal.”