Sheffield Steeldogs and Leeds Knights setting the early pace in NIHL Autumn Cup

YORKSHIre rivals Sheffield Steeldogs and Leeds Knights are making the early running in the NIHL Autumn Cup as the only teams to still boast a 100 per cent record.

Matt Bissonnette battles with Swindon Wildcats' Tomasz Malasinski during Saturday's 7-2 win at Ice Sheffield in the NIHL Autumn Cup. Picture via Steeldogs Media.

After hammering Swindon Wildcats 7-3 in Wiltshire on Friday night, the Knights enjoyed a day off before extending their winning streak to three games with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Telford Tigers at Elland Road.

The Steeldogs made it a weekend to forget for Swindon when beating them 7-2 at Ice Sheffield on Saturday night before heading south to return with two more points in a 5-2 win at Bees IHC.

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Sheffield got caught early in Slough - the new home of the Bees - when Dominik Gabaj gave the hosts a third-minute lead on the power play after the Steeldogs were called for too many men on the ice.

Brandon Whistle scored twice for Leeds knights in their 5-2 win over Telford Tigers. Picture: Andy Bourke/Podium Prints

That was how it remained until just before the halfway point when Tom Ralph fired through traffic from the edge of the Bees zone past former Sheffield goalie Curtis Warburton, although just under five minutes had passed before the hosts got themselves in front again through Niklas Ornmarker.

Jason Hewitt then dragged the visitors level for a second time two minutes later, line-mate Matt Bissonnette giving his team the lead for the first time at 49.14, the points being sealed once Warburton was pulled with empty-net strikes from Nathan Ripley and then Lee Bonner.

Leeds ensured they kept pace with their White Rose rivals with a deserved 5-2 win at home over Telford in front of over 1,000 fans.

Matty Davies broke the deadlock early on at 3.27 only for Joe Ashton to equalise just under four minutes later at 7.11.

Nathan Ripley enjoyed himself in the 7-2 win over Swindon at ice Sheffield. Picture courtesy of Steeldogs Media.

Chances came and went at either end but rival netminders Sam Gospel and Brad Day both stood firm, the hosts eventually regaining the lead on the power play through Brandon Whistle in the 28th minute.

Jordan Fisher and Andy McKinney dropped the gloves in centre ice in the 35th minute, but it was the third period when the scoring resumed, Kieran Brown pushing down the left-hand side before cutting in to fire a rocket past Day at his near post and into the roof of the net with 45,43 on the clock.

Jason Silverthorn redueced the arrears at 52,15 and, for a while, the pressure was on the hosts. But, crucially, it was they who got the next goal, a scramble in front of Day’s net seeing the puck eventually fall kindly for Lewis Houston, who lifed it into the net at 54.05, Whistle adding an empty-net marker with just 77 seconds remaining.

Swindon were no doubt relieved to find out that they won’t have to play either Yorkshire team for a few weeks, having shipped a total of 14 goals in two nights to their White Rose rivals.

After Leeds had ruined the Wildcats night at home on Friday, it got no better for Aaron Nell’s team 24 hours later at Ice Sheffield.

The visitors actually took the lead twice in the first period, going in 2-1 ahead with Emil Svec’s double sandwiching a reply from Bissonnette.

Thereafter, there was only one team in it, Bissonnette doubling his tally for the night at 22.55 before three goals in as many minutes - the first from Bonner at 28.56 with further strikes from Ripley and Hewitt - put the hosts firmly in control. Third period strikes from Sam Towner and Charlie Thompson completing the rout.