One Step Closer To Glory – Panthers 2:4 Steelers

🦊🎙️ Aaron Fox Interview

Game Summary

The Steelers took another step closer to Elite League glory this evening with victory on the road over the Nottingham Panthers. Coming from behind and taking control in the final period, the Steelers worked through the gears with goals from Cormier (200th of the season for the Steelers), Saucerman, Balmas and Nicholls overcoming a resilient Nottingham Panthers who worked hard throughout on the counter attack as the Steelers dominated the possession and shot count.

It is all eyes on tomorrow night now as the Steelers take on the Guildford Flames with two more points guaranteeing League Championship silverware to add to the Challenge Cup trophy the Steelers lifted earlier in the month.

First Period [1-0]

A one goal lead for the home team heading into the second period with the Panthers finding the only goal of the opening period.

On the face of it, against the play as the Steelers started much the brighter peppering the goal of Rok Stojanovic throughout the first five minute, but Nottingham stuck to their tactics very well throughout the period, letting the visitors have the better of the possession but backing their defensive abilities to keep efforts to the outside and using their speed, particularly though Michaud and Luciani to break quickly down the ice on several occasions.

Ten shots on target apiece for the two sides, but the one that counts for the Panthers just after the halfway mark at (10.03) with Michaud finding Alexander Lunjso down the left wing entering the play from the bench and beating Greenfield above the catcher with an inch perfect effort giving the Steelers netminder no chance.

The Steelers then with the only powerplay chance of the period when Tyler Welsh was called for interference after colliding with the Steelers goalie and grabbing the attention of Kevin Tansey. No leveller for the Steelers on the man advantage though with Stojanovic robbing Mitchell Balmas flashing the leather on a shot heading top corner through the legs of a Panthers defencemen.

The Steelers therefore heading into the second twenty down by one and would have been looking to head through the gears to get themselves back into the encounter.

Second Period [2-2]

All even after two periods and a much better twenty for the Steelers, again having the better of the possession and also leading the shot count by the end of the period by 24 to 19.

The Steelers back level on the first shift after the restart at (20.23). A speculative shot towards the goal of Stojanovic from Dominic Cormier from around the left-wing hash marks, low towards the five-hole of the Panthers netminder and one he would definitely want back, sneaking through the gap and just over the line for an unassisted effort and the 200th goal of the season for the Steelers.

Up stepped the first line of the Panthers to get the home team back in-front once again at (28.10). Roy and Nieminen particularly buzzing around the Steelers zone and hemming them in before Nieminen found the feed for Jordan Kelsall with space down the right and beating Greenfield with another perfect snipe above the catcher.

Monkey off the back though shortly afterwards for Colton Saucerman, pulling the Steelers back level for the second time of the period at (32.23). Wrister sent in from the blue line and good work from both Mikko Juusola and Robert Dowd to take away the eyes of Stojanovic looking for the tip and the puck heading straight through high into the top of the Panthers goal. Assists credited to Vallerand and Dowd for the work before to create the space for Saucerman.

The Steelers then able to kill off a Scott Allen high sticking penalty without any particular danger, but it was then over to both netminders with Greenfield to come up big for the Steelers, saving one from point blank range diving forwards, with Stojanovic then saving a couple of late back to back chances for the Steelers as the teams headed into the final period of regulation all square.

Third Period [2-4]

Working through the gears, the Steelers went on to dominate the final period to take the two points on offer with a two-nil third period thanks to goals from Mitchell Balmas and Josh Nicolls.

Another early period goal for the Steelers at (41.52) and what an assist to set it up from Patrick Watling, dangling with the puck in the Panthers zone and fooling the Panthers netminder, expecting a wrap around, but a no-look pass back to the slot found Mitchell Balmas perfectly and he fired the puck home into an open net with Stojanovic stranded.

The pressure starting to tell on the Panthers with the home team starting to tire with a shortened bench. Brett Neuman with the energy on the forecheck forcing the error by the Panthers defence, coughing up the puck at (51.45) from behind his own goal right into the path of Josh Nicholls in the slot who had no problem beating Stojanovic just over the pad.

Despite the best efforts of the Panthers, there was no comeback on the cards with the Steelers often trapping them into their own zone throughout the final section of play and not allowing them to pull the netminder for the extra attacker as the Steelers kept on the pressure until the final buzzer sounded.