Defeated they may be but Sheffield Steelers still get satisfaction from being top of Elite League pile

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd has a disagreement with Guildford's John Dunbar.Picture Courtesy of Dean Woolley.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd has a disagreement with Guildford's John Dunbar.Picture Courtesy of Dean Woolley.
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SHEFFIELD STEELERS may have come out on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline last night – but there are still plenty of positives to be had this morning.

Aaron Fox’s team split the weekend with the Guildford Flames, having won 5-3 on Saturday only to lose out 4-2 in Surrey 24 hours later.

But the Steelers remain top of the early-season standings, albeit Belfast Giants having drawn level on points courtesy of a six-game winning streak.

The Giants have also played three fewer games, but Fox will still be a generally satisfied head coach on Monday morning given the recent effort from his players, even if he was frustrated at Sunday night’s reverse.

“It was kind of like a complete reversal of last night’s game,” said Fox. “On Saturday we jumped off to a good start and Guildford had a good push back in our barn and made it tight.

“I felt like it was the same thing at their place, they jumped on us early and got 3-0 up early.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Aaron Fox at The Spectrum in Guildford on Sunday night. Picture courtesy of EIHL/Guildford.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Aaron Fox at The Spectrum in Guildford on Sunday night. Picture courtesy of EIHL/Guildford.

“I liked our push back though and we had our chances late in the game, we hit the post we had good chances to tighten that game up, missed an empty net there.

“But you’ve got to play 60 minutes in this league and you’ve got to be ready from the first puck drop. (On Sunday) we weren’t and Guildford played a solid game.”

Three goals in four first-period minutes did for the Steelers, the Flames getting their own back for having suffered a similar fate the previous night in Sheffield.

Jamie Crooks got the ball rolling for the hosts at The Spectrum with a 10th-minute power play tip-in, the advantage being quickly doubled just under a minute later in similar style by Ian Watters.

You’ve got to play 60 minutes in this league and you’;ve got to be ready from the first puck drop, but tonight we weren’t and Guildford played a solid game.

Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Aaron Fox.

The deficit was increased further by a Cam Braes rocket at 13.52, although the Steelers quickly got on the board through an Eric Meland tip-in just 33 seconds later.

The next goal was likely to be crucial and it came the way of the hosts, Kruise Reddick striking on the power play through traffic at 30.03.

Anthony DeLuca hit back on the man advantage for the visitors just before the end of the second thanks to a neat feeed from Lucas Sandstrom but, ultimately, the Steelers were to be frustrated.

On Saturday, an explosive nine-minute spell put the hosts into a commanding position after just 20 minutes at the FlyDSA Arena.

Marc-Olivier Vallerand got the socring underway at 11.47, followed by Jonathan Phillips 55 seconds later. Brendan Connolly made it 3-0 at 18.34, followed by James Bettauer scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal with just 51 seconds left in the first period.

Defenceman Bettauer struck again at 32.15, but that signalled a change in momentum. Corbin Baldwin pulled one back just 23 seconds later before TJ Foster brought the score back to 5-2 with a minute left in the second.

Watters made it a two-goal game with just under 15 minutes to play, but that was as close as the Flames got.