Dominant Sheffield Steeldogs march on unbeaten in NIHL National Spring Cup after swatting aside Bees IHC

GREG WOOD was full of pride in the performance of his Sheffield Steeldogs’ team after they maintained their Spring Cup winning streak with a 7-0 hammering of Bees IHC.

DOUBLE DELIGHT: Jason Hewitt enjoyed a productive night in the 7-0 win over Bees IHC, scoring two goals and an assist. Picture courtesy of Andy Bourke/Podium Prints.

Two goals apiece for Nathan Salem, Jason Hewitt and Alex Graham, plus one for Ben Lake saw the Steeldogs make it five wins from five ahead of Sunday’s road trip to Slough to face the same opponents.

Ben O’Connor weighed in with three assists and fellow defenceman Tim Smith two, while 18-year-old Graham enjoyed a 2+3 night as the hosts dominated all over the ice.

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“This performance was very much in the same manner as last Sunday at the Raiders,” said Wood. “I thought we were dominant in all areas, the way we executed the small details of our systems that we’ve been working on, it was pleasing to see.

“Some of the goals tonight were fantastic, individual efforts, team goals, we had a nice mix. I thought our power play was excellent when we got the opportunity and we took our chances.

“We scored four goals in quick succession and once you do that, the game is over and done with, so I was very proud of that performance.”

The game was over by the halfway point by which time the Steeldogs had plundered all their goals, the tone being set early on when, with just 92 seconds on the clock, Salem was allowed time and space in front after being found by a sharp O’Connor pass to fire past Adam Goss.

Good work down the right and a deft layoff by Graham, set up Hewitt to fire in from just outside the circle to double the lead at 10.13.

LEADING MAN: Alex Graham continued to show his developing prowess with a 2+3 night against Bees. Picture courtesy of Andy Bourke/Podium Prints.

The Bees had picked up their first win of the competition the previous evening against Raiders and Lewis Hook forced the hosts’ new goaltender Jordan Lawday into action from 15 yards out to ensure it wasn't one-way traffic.

But most of the chances continued to come at the other end, the hosts going 3-0 ahead through a slick move which saw Hewitt free on the left wing to take a pinpoint switch pass off Graham from where he was equally accurate in finding Lake alone at the back post to score past the exposed Goss.

A five-plus-game call for early high sticks on James Galazzi early in the second then handed the Steeldogs an advantage they made full use of, Salem getting his second of the night when firing through traffic past the unfortunate Goss at 21.21.

Just over a minute later Graham was free to fire home from just inside the left circle to make it 5-0, with Hewitt finding his range from more or less the same position off a feed from O’Connor at 23.36.

PROUD: Sheffield Steeldogs' head coach, Greg Wood. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs.

That prompted Goss to be spared any further misery when he was replaced by Daniel Milton, although it wasn’t long until he was beaten when Graham burst down the left before cutting in and being allowed all the time and space in the world to pick his spot at 27.11.

Lawday, impressive on the few moments when was called on, was replaced by Miles Finney in net just past the halfway mark.

Not surprisingly, the hosts eased off slightly in the third, although Liam Kirk, Stanislav Lascek and Jonathan Phillips, all had chances to increase the lead, while Finney was impressive on the few occasions he was called into action at the other end.

“I’d have liked us to have kept our foot down but, you’ve got to be happy with a 7-0 win,” added Wood. “It was nice to give everybody ice time tonight. Again, sometimes you can rely on certain guys too much but it’s nice to look down the roster and be able to throw your fourth line guys out there and get them the ice time.

“I was really impressed with Jordan. He’s not skated as much as some of the other guys, but he came in Thursday and practised, was really professional and I was really impressed with him.

“Then tonight, he was so focussed and switched on and I felt he did a great job for us. The guys in front of him helped and we played well defensively but any time he was called upon, he dealt with it.

“The same with Miles. He was probably a bit busier tonight and we put him under a bit more pressure with a few power plays, but overall I think it’s a positive for the club that we’ve got guys fighting for positions and competing.”

The result ensured Steeldogs remain top of the Spring Cup standings after five games, but locked on the same points as Telford Tigers, who extended their winning streak further when hammering Swindon Wildcats 9-2, former Steeldogs' forward Kieran Brown grabbing a goal and two assists. The top two meet in a double header next weekend, with Wood's team travelling to Shropshire for a 3pm face-off on Saturday.