NOTTINGHAM, UK – The 2nd semi final of the day got underway at 5pm with league runners up the Sheffield Steelers facing off against the Braehead Clan who are coached by formers Steelers supremo Ryan Finnerty which added a little extra spice to this clash.
Steelers went into the semi final as the bookies favourites however given the 2 sides split the 4 league games they played this term Braehead were certainly more than capable of achieving a positive result against Sheffield over the 60 minutes of play off hockey.
Clan started the game on the front foot and took the lead just 3 minutes into the opening stanza of action when Kevin Bergin picked out Neil Trimm with a pin point pass and Trimm fired past Frank Doyle in the Sheffield goal. Braehead then took 2 penalties for high sticking in quick succession and Steelers were able the light the lamp on the 2nd of their powerplay opportunities when Di Casimirro found the back of the net to tie the game up at 1 all.
Steelers continued to threaten the Braehead goal and Dustin Kohn fired Sheffield into the lead with 16 minutes on the clock with Chris Blight picking up the assist. Around a minute after the goal went in a melee between the Clan’s Kevin Bergin and Steelers Drew Fata broke out both players were given 2 plus 2 for roughing. Then another scuffle occurred on the boards which resulted in Joel Champagne and Jason Hewitt serving time in the sin bin for fighting and roughing respectively while Braehead’s Chris Frank and Sheffield’s Tim Spencer were thrown out of the game.
During the middle session of play it was the Sheffield who ran into penalty problems as Steelers picked up 3 minor infringements within 4 minutes of each other. The Clan powerplay generated a great number of chances with Lee Esder firing wide when well positioned before Braehead skipper Ash Goldie netted a powerplay marker on the Clan’s 3rd man advantage of the period.
Sheffield almost regained the lead in the last few seconds of the session when a mistake from Clan d man Kenton Smith presented Stefan Meyer with stellar opening however Kyle Jones in the Braehead goal was able to smother puck and prevent either a goal or a rebound opportunity from occurring.
With the scores tied at 2 all going into the final period of play both sides were arguably playing their most important period of hockey of the season and it was Robert Dowd who fired Sheffield into the lead on 53 minutes to the delight of the large army of travelling teal and orange supporters of the who had made their way down to the National Ice Centre from Yorkshire.
Braehead gave everything they had going forward during the remainder of the game and with just over a minute left in the contest Steelers picked up a bench minor for having too many men on the ice resulting in a Clan powerplay.
Braehead coach Ryan Finnerty then opted to pull his netminder Jones to allow Clan to skate 6 onto 4 for the last minute or so of action which saw the Scottish side generate a number of chances however Frank Doyle in the Steelers net was able to turn all of the Clan’s efforts away as Sheffield held on to clinch a 3-2 victory and a place in tomorrow’s play off final against the Belfast Giants.
Sheffield’s Man of the Match went to their goaltender Frank Royle who saved 29 of the 31 shots that came his way while Clan’s best player was adjudged to be their captain Ash Goldie who netted Braehead’s 2nd goal of the game.
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