SHEFFIELD, U.K. – The Sheffield Steelers earned their day off today after a great four point weekend up in Scotland against the Braehead Clan and the Edinburgh Capitals.
The Steelers first faced off against an under performing Braehead Clan team on the Saturday night in front of a near 3000 crowd in Glasgow, many of which were made up of the great travelling contingent of Steelers supporters.
The vociferous Sheffield fans buoyed their team on to an impressive 7-2 win, with the scoreline flattering the Steelers to an extent.
Braehead were simply not at the races, and despite out shooting the visitors by 43-25, they weren’t clinical enough in their finishing in front of goal.
The Steelers took an early lead courtesy of NHL lockout player Tom Sestito at 07:16 when he was on hand to fire home from close range after a Steven Goertzen shot was rebounded out to him, to make it 1-0.
Braehead had a chance to level moments later when former Steeler Rob Farmer beat everyone but the post at 08:04.
The visitors doubled their advantage at 10:04 after some great forechecking in the Clan zone, with Shawn Limpright finding himself at the end of a neat Steven Goertzen pass, with Limpright calmly deking around Clan goaltender Garrett Zemlak and slotting the puck home to make it 2-0.
The Steelers weren’t done, and with less than three minutes remaining in the period, defenceman Rod Sarich surged forward and tipped in a Tom Sestito shot in front of goal to make it 3-0 at 17:26.
The Clan started the second period strongly and got their break early on with a powerplay goal courtesy of former EIHL top points scorer Jade Galbraith.
Clan Captain Ash Goldie’s right wing shot took a fortuitous bounce of Steelers defenceman Rod Sarich’s leg, which then fell nicely into the path of Jade Galbraith who fired home from close range at 20:32.
The Steelers almost regained their three-goal lead when Lee Esders was denied on a 2-on-1 thanks to Garrett Zemlak and his goalpost at 23:43.
The Steelers pressed and once again got a goal due to some great forechecking in the Clan offensive zone.
Tylor Michel found Tom Sestito all alone in front of the net with a nice pass, with the Philadelphia Flyer netting up high with a neat finish, to make it 4-1 at 27:43.
The hosts were desperate to claw their way back into the game and shelled 17 sots on the Steelers goal in the second period, but Steelers netminder John DeCaro stood firm to the test with some impressive saves.
With just over a minute remaining in the period Glasgow native Colin Shields one timed a blistering shot high past Zemlak from the slot to make it 5-1 after a great feed from Ashley Tait.
It was business as usual for the Steelers in the third period, with Shields turning from scorer to provider as he found Jeff Legue with a nice pass, with the Steelers number 11 dancing around former teammate and new Clan defenceman Steve Birnstill and then finishing nicely on the backhand past Zemlak to make it 6-1 at 45:19.
The hosts pulled a goal back after a scramble in front of the Steelers goal, and the Clan’s very own NHL’er on hiatus Drew Miller was on hand to tap in a back post rebound at 51:55.
The Steelers pressed and soon hammered the final nail in the Clan Coffin as Tom Sestito hit home the visitors seventh of the night, and Sestito’s hat trick marker to make it 7-2 at 53:03.
Despite a valiant third period fight back the Clan couldn’t muster any real threats on the Steelers goal and the clock ticked down ensuring that Sheffield would take the win and the valuable two league points on offer.
The Steelers then made the one-hour coach journey from Glasgow to Edinburgh on the Sunday to face the EIHL basement club the Edinburgh Capitals.
Despite the Caps’ being moored at the foot of the EIHL table they battled with the Steelers like they were a formidable title rival with the game going right down to the wire.
The Steelers eventually came away 3-2 winners in the Scottish capital to seal their four-point weekend.
The host struck first in the tenth minute with a well worked goal from Capitals stalwart Martin Cingel, who hit home his tenth of the season to make it 1-0 at 12:08.
The Steelers weren’t at the races and were truly outworked and outskated for the entire first period, failing to register any real scoring chances on Caps’ goalkeeper Tomas Hiadlovsky.
The Steelers came out stronger in the second period, and were soon on level terms when Jeff Legue rifled home a fine effort after a nice pass from Colin Shields at 25:08 making it 1-1.
The Capitals pressed and soon regained their lead on the powerplay in the 29th minute courtesy of impressive Czech defenceman Michal Dobron who’s shot from the point beat John DeCaro in the Steelers goal to make it 2-1.
A strong Capitals defensive unit thwarted the visitor’s efforts, and they went into the second period break with a slender one-goal advantage.
The Steelers came out the gates strongly in the final period and shelled 17 shots on the Capitals goal with Hiadlovsky being called upon to make a host of impressive saves.
The 23-year-old Slovakian shot stopper was lucky not to pick up a penalty as he displaced his goal off the moorings several times when the Steelers were in the offensive zone.
The game turned sour in the 48th minute when local boy Neil Hay stuck a knee out on Steelers defenceman Danny Meyers, who had to be helped off the ice, and didn’t play a further part in the game.
The Capitals forward was assessed a 5+ game penalty for kneeing by referee Tom Darnell, resulting in the Steelers having a five minute powerplay.
The Steelers took advantage of this and just 50 seconds into the powerplay the in-form Shawn Limpright fired home from close range to tie the game up at 2-2.
The buoyant Steelers fans in Murrayfield got behind their team, and they were soon up on their feet again when former NHL’er Steve Goertzen found the back of the net with a nice effort at 50:33 to give the Steelers a 3-2 lead.
The Capitals were determined to claw their way back into the game, and almost did so in the 54th minute with Rene Jarolin being denied by a superb DeCaro save.
The visitors held on as the clock ticked away, ensuring that the South Yorkshire side took the win and completed their four-point weekend.
Steelers Head Coach Ryan Finnerty offered his thoughts after the game, “ We come back with 4 points, that’s what we went to Scotland looking for. For sure it was a tight one in Edinburgh. We were far from our best in the first period but I thought we played better in the second and miles better in the final period,” Finnerty said.
“Give the Cap’s their due. They had their first choice goalie in tonight after playing their back up in Belfast and he played a great game. They spanked Braehead last week and I can see how, they have some talent,” Finnerty added.
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