With an 8-1 record from their opening nine league games, the Steelers are sending out all the right signals to their rivals, their latest win moving them up to third in the overall standings with games in hand on the two teams above them.
As difficult an opponent as Hull proved to be once again, they could not prevent a third defeat of the season to their Yorkshire rivals.
Mike Forney’s 12th-minute strike was all that separated the two sides going into the first break, the 26-year-old American forward doubling the lead on the powerplay early in the second.
A second powerplay strike of the night – this time from Mathieu Roy at 45.14 – effectively sealed the points, although Cory Tanaka’s 53rd-minute riposte briefly concerned the home crowd at Ice Sheffield before Gord Baldwin’s 58th-minute powerplay strike made it 4-1.
Pacha, prevented from playing at Sheffield as he continued his recovery from a broken arm, was pleased with his players’ efforts, but was quick to sing the praises of Saturday night’s hosts.
“I think Sheffield are the best team in the league and they played really well,” said Pacha.
“I was disappointed with some of the calls, but we did not play a bad game. A few mental mistakes costs us some goals but we kept going until the end and got a goal back.”
Steelers’ head coach Gerad Adams was aware of Hull’s capability for causing upsets ahead of the game, but was pleased with the way his players dealt with the threat posed.
“The mental approach and the attitude of the players has been absolutely spot on and that is what has carried us through,” said Adams. “Having eight wins out of nine is right where we want to be.
“I think Hull have improved a lot. They play a high pressure game and if you’re not at your best defensively I think they can really hurt you.”
Stingrays bounced back last night in a Gardiner Conference game against Fife Flyers, goals from Dominic Osman and Eric Galbraith (2) securing a welcome 3-1 win.
The result moved Hull second in the Conference standings, but was just as important as it eventually saw the return of Pacha to the ice after an 11-game absence.
After losing their first six home games of the season, Stingrays have now won two out of the last three at Hull Arena, while also taking Nottingham Panthers into overtime to earn what could prove to be a valuable point in the Challenge Cup.
“It was a big win,” added Pacha. “Everybody knew this was probably one of the most important games of the year and everybody showed up.
“We knew we had to rebound after Saturday and get back on the winning track and I thought we played a good game. Defensively we played well and (goaltender) Browny played a great game.”
Sunday – Elite League: Dundee Stars 3 Nottingham Panthers 4 (OT), Edinburgh Capitals 4 Braehead Clan 9, Hull Stingrays 3 Fife Flyers 1
Challenge Cup, Group B: Coventry Blaze 0 Cardiff Devils 4.
Saturday – Elite League: Cardiff Devils 6 Coventry Blaze 3, Fife Flyers 5 Dundee Stars 0, Nottingham Panther 4 v Belfast Giants 3 (OT), Sheffield Steelers 4 Hull Stingrays 1.
Elite League/Challenge Cup, Group A: Braehead Clan 3 Edinburgh Capitals 1