WHATEVER Paul Thompson said to his Sheffield Steelers side in the second period break last night, clearly had the desired effect - just.
Trailing 2-0 to Omar Pacha’s Dundee Stars, things once again looked bleak for a Steelers side who had already endured their fair share of struggles on home ice this season.
And while the last 20 minutes may not have been much prettier than the first 40, it was productive enough, with Jordan Owens’s 42nd-minute shorthanded marker being added to by a Chris Lawrence piledriver in the 57th minute.
It was enough to take the game into five minutes of 3-on-3 which, despite plenty of endeavour from both sides, failed to produce a winner. Cue a penalty shoot-out, with Lawrence adding to his earlier strike and Josh Pitt ensuring the extra point went to the home side in a 3-2 win, while Dundee were left to ponder what might have been having failed to find a way past Steelers' goalie Jackson Whistle with their four efforts.
But while they were eventually able to take a valuable two points, there was no sense of relief from their coach post-game, only frustration and, at times, anger at the way his team had performed.
The Steelers' boss pulled no punches in his post-match comments and, having last week already released two ineffective summer signings in twin brothers Matt and Ryan Rupert, threatened further exits, but only after filling the spaces currently on his roster.
Earlier, a goalless first period was followed by a middle section that saw the night unravel alarmingly for Thompson and his players.
There were efforts for new arrival Brendan Brooks and Steffan Della Rovere on a couple of breakaways, but nothing to trouble Stars goalie Pontus Sjogren.
It was to prove costly, the breakthrough for Dundee coming just after the halfway point when Whistle’s initial save bounced kindly for Brian Hart, who forced the puck over the line for a power play goal before the Steelers’ goalie could smother it.
It got worse for the hosts when former forward Matt Marquardt - released as part of a major overhaul at Sheffield by Thompson in the summer - came back to haunt his former bosses by doubling the Stars’ lead with just seven seconds remaining in the period.
The Steelers' players were left in no doubt as to the frustration felt by their coach in the second break and responded within two minutes of the restart when Owens's finished smartly past Sjogren following a burst down the right side by Pitt.
But still the Steelers toiled, with Whistle forced to make a number of smart saves before the longed-for equaliser came with just under four minutes remaining, when another pad save from the Steelers' goalie helped launch a break from player-assistant coach Mark Matheson, who fed Lawrence in the right channel from where he fired past Sjogren.