GLASGOW CLAN must be sick of the sight of Sheffield Steelers lately. The trouble is, they’re going to have to face-off against them again in two days’ time.
Having had the measure of Aaron Fox’s team in the early part of the season, winning the first two encounters between the two sides, the Clan have been made to taste defeat four times at the hands of the Elite League leaders in the past three weeks.
The Steelers pole-axed Zack Fitzgerald’s team with four goals in a crazy four minutes of the third period in Glasgow last Sunday, to run out 5-3 winners.
Then, last night in Sheffield - when it was announced utility player Eric Meland would be leaving the club - it was almost a case of deja vu with the Clan 3-1 to the good again. This time, however, the Steelers didn’t leave it so late to rectify the situation.
Before the end of the second period, they were already 4-3 ahead, with salt being rubbed viciously into the Clan’s wound with a further three goals in the third. The two meet again in Glasgow in the first leg of their Challenge Cup semi-final.
It was the Steelers who struck first, captain Jonathan Phillips scoring short-handed at 4.53 while his team were killing a 5-on-3 penalty.
The Clan then gained control through Scott Tanksi and former Steelers’ hero Mathieu Roy before Jordan Heywood’s power play effort at 25.23 made it 3-1.
It required a wonder goal from Tanner Eberle at 29.08 to get Steelers’ rolling again, the hosts drawing level through Lucas Sandstrom at 35.55 and regaining the lead through brendan Connolly on the power play two minutes later.
In the third, a simple tap-in early on from Michael Davies strengthened the Steelers’ grip on proceedings, later strikes coming from Marc-Oliver Vallerand and Connolly to ensure Fox’s team remain three points clear of second-placed Cardiff Devils, who have four games in hand.
“I didn’t like our game in the first,” said Streelers’ head coach Fox. “I didn’t think our battle level was there and we were kind of playing one-man hockey a little bit and were not really on the same page.
“But, come that second period, when we got dialled in and started rolling, we’re a hard team to handle. We just end up finding a way to get that momentum rolling and when we do, we score in bunches.”