John Armstrong timely double helps Sheffield Steelers earn weekend bragging rights over Nottingham Panthers

MAIN MAN: John Armstrong celebrates the first of his two goals in the final five minutes for Sheffield Steelers against Nottingham Panthers on Sunday evening. Picture: Dean Woolley.
MAIN MAN: John Armstrong celebrates the first of his two goals in the final five minutes for Sheffield Steelers against Nottingham Panthers on Sunday evening. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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SHEFFIELD STEELERS enjoyed a double Challenge Cup triumph over Nottingham Panthers – although they had to claim weekend bragging rights the hard way.

Having beaten their arch-rivals 3-1 at the National Ice Centre to end their three-game losing streak on Saturday night - a win sealed with goals from Nikolai Lemtyugov, Michael Davies and Robert Dowd - Aaron Fox’s team required a shoot-out on home ice 24 hours later.

In an almost identical period to the night before, the visitors led by a goal after 20 minutes in Sheffield thanks to Jason Desantis’s slapshot at 6.47.

The Panthers made it 2-0 through Brian Connolly at 22.52 but the Steelers got themselves back into the game through an unlikely source at 33.12 when Cole Shudra fired through traffic to halve the deficit.

The Steelers were left with a mountain to climb when they went two goals behind again early in the third after Jordan Kelsall’s strike, but John Armstrong proved the difference maker, first striking short-handed at 55.20 before, with goalie Tomas Duba pulled, firing home again with just 72 seconds left on the clock.

No goals could be found at either end in overtime, and it was shoot-out strikes from Anthony DeLuca and Marc-Olivier Vallerand that earned the Steelers the extra point in a 4-3 triumph.

TAKE THAT: Marc-Olivier Vallerand fires home during the shoot-out to earn the extra point for Sheffield Steelers against Nottingham Panthers. Picture: Dean Woolley.

TAKE THAT: Marc-Olivier Vallerand fires home during the shoot-out to earn the extra point for Sheffield Steelers against Nottingham Panthers. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Afterwards, Fox felt his team got their just rewards in front of a 7,000-strong FlyDSA Arena crowd, although he admitted they made life more difficult for themselves than it needed to be.

"I thought we were a little cute in the first period," said Fox. "We were dominating play but we weren't getting pucks to the net or getting to the hard areas, we were trying to kake the extra pass and, sometimes, you've just got to make the game simple.

"It was one of those games that could have gone either way and I feel like we've been on the losing end of a couple of those type of games, so it was good to come out on top this time. So it was a good four-point weekend, I know the rivalry is huge between the two teams and any time you can win back-to-back against that team is good for Steelers hockey."