Steelers are locked in three-horse race for League title – Simon

SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ player-coach Ben Simon insists it remains a three-horse race for the Elite League title with only five weeks of the regular season remaining.

Steelers picked up a point from their only game of the weekend in a 4-3 shoot-out defeat to arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers on Saturday night and, after last night’s results for title rivals Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils remain four ahead of the chasing pack.

The Giants’ title chances have been dismissed in some quarters recently with the assumption being it was simply a two-horse race between Steelers and Cardiff, but Simon believes there may well be many twists and turns to come over the last few weeks.

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“Everyone keeps talking about us and Cardiff, but keep your eye out for Belfast,” said Simon. “They are quietly going about their work, their injured guys are back now and they are winning games regularly again so we must not forget them.”

Steelers let a two-goal lead slip at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, going ahead at the end of the first period through Joey Talbot before goals from Jeff Legue and Simon cancelling out Billy Ryan’s 25th-minute equaliser.

But the Panthers took the game into overtime and then the shoot-out after Rob Bellamy and then David-Alexandre Beauregard found a way past former Nottingham netminder Geoff Woolhouse. Talbot and Ryan both scored in the shoot-out before Nottingham captain Danny Meyers netted to secure the extra point for the visitors.

“When we went 3-1 up I was hoping we would have enough,” added Simon. “But they hit back early and credit to them, they are a good team.”

Top goalscorer Jereme Tendler and Matti Uusivirta bagged a brace apiece as Hull Stingrays posted an important 6-3 victory over Dundee Stars at Hull Arena.

Stars player-coach Dan Ceman scored the only goal of the first period on the powerplay but Konstantin Kalmikov and Tendler – his 39th of the season – put Stingrays ahead after 35 minutes.

Peter Cartwright levelled for Stars, Tendler’s second restored Stingrays’ lead before another Ceman powerplay made it 3-3 with six minutes left.

Player-coach Sylvain Cloutier grabbed what proved to be the game-winning goal and Uusivirta notched twice within the space of 69 seconds to secure the points.

Stingrays welcomed back Drew Bannister and Lee Esders after injury and bench coach Bobby McEwan said: “We set out to get the two points and that is what we got. It was a big win.”

Last night, Stingrays earned a point against Coventry Blaze after a 3-2 overtime defeat. Tendler scored twice.