AARON FOX praised the resilience of his Sheffield Steelers team as their seven-game Elite League winning streak was brought to an end by arch rivals Nottingham Panthers.
A 3-2 win in overtime was swift and sweet revenge for Tim Wallace’s side, who had gone down by the same scoreline but in regulation 24 hours earlier at the National Ice Centre.
But the Steelers, still missing several key players through injury, almost pulled off a remarkable comeback, having found themselves 2-0 down at the end of 40 minutes.
After a goalless first period, the Panthers took control with two goals inside five minutes of the middle section.
Jake Hansen smartly rounding Steelers’ goaltender Tomas Duba from Sam Herr’s feed at 20.38 before the provider turned finisher on the power play at 24.37.
But, just as the game looked like heading for a regulation defeat for the hosts, up popped defenceman Marek Trončinsky to squeeze the puck through Kevin Carr for a short-handed strike at 53.43.
Then, with just under two minutes remaining, Tanner Eberle beat Carr on his near-post to send the game into overtime.
But it was there where the momentum switched, the Panthers making the most of a 3-on-2 from which Herr fired home the game-winner at 62.49.
Three points from four over two nights, however, was enough to leave Steelers’ head coach satisfied, his mood lightened further by news that second-placed Cardiff Devils had been thumped 5-0 at home by Coventry Blaze, increasing the Steelers’ lead at the top of the table to three points.
“What we’ve gone through here during these past 10 games has been a nice little run but we’ve been doing it really short,” said Fox. “The boys are mentally and physically tired right now.
“But I’m looking at this as a three-point weekend and that’s with us not playing our best hockey either night. So to grind out three points is why I’m proud of our group.”