The Steelers made in three wins from three Challenge Cup games tonight as they weathered the Storm’s comeback to net another six goals. The Steelers have now scored six goals in each of their Challenge Cup games with goals tonight from Tansey, Nicholls, Saucerman, Vallerand (x2) and Simpson.
The Steelers were up by three at the halfway stage, but the Storm came back to level it up early in the third period before a short-handed goal from Vallerand sparked life into the Steelers who were relentless towards the back end of the game once again.
The Steelers were in Challenge Cup action once again tonight in a reverse fixture of the one which took place on Wednesday night in front of just under 9,000 fans in one of our £8 spectaculars. That means we were on the road to take on the Manchester Storm in Altringham, with the home team looking to avenge their 6-1 drubbing from earlier in the week.
Wednesday night also saw the second consecutive Challenge Cup fixture in which the Steelers found the back of their opponents’ net on six occasions, thanks to six different goal-scorers.
However, Steelers Coach, Aaron Fox would still have been looking to his team for a quicker start to game, rather than having to rely on a late surge to see off their opposition.
Team news brought about a couple of changes for the Steelers in what has been a consistent method up to now as Scott Allen was given a rest for the returning Mark Simpson, but big news was that Matt Greenfield was also able to take a well-earned rest as Anthony Morrone was back and ready to make his competitive debut for his new team. Brandon Whistle still awaits his return from injury.
First Period (0-1)
The Steelers were on their game from puck-drop tonight, out-shooting the Storm by 18 shots on target to the Storms 6 in the first period.
However, the Storms’ netminder, Weninger kept the Steelers down to only one goal in the period which came through Kevin Tansey at (5.41) as the Steelers went on an early powerplay when Johnson was sent to the box for a hooking offence.
A great tic-tac-toe play between the powerplay line as Saucerman and Balmas combined to then find Tansey crashing the net and he put away the puck perfectly at the backpost as Weninger was unable to get himself across his crease quickly enough.
The Steelers were relatively comfortable for the entire twenty minutes despite having to kill off a Nicholls slashing penalty later in the period and would have been looking to continue their good offense into the second period.
Second Period (2-3)
By the halfway mark, the Steelers looked to be well on their way to their third straight Challenge Cup victory as they were three goals to the good as Nicholls and Saucerman added to the goal-tally for the visitors.
Nicholls goal came early in the period at (21.32) as Ciampini picked up the puck at the Storm blue line, only to find himself two on one with Nicholls. Ciampini held onto the puck for as long as he dare before finding Nicholls at Weninger’s backpost, and he slotted the puck away low.
Sacucerman then added the third at (28.37) on a major powerpay after Ulett was called for charging at the Storm’s bench on his opposite number, Patrick Watling. A nasty hit after the puck was long gone. Saucerman used his wingers well and found nothing but top corner from just inside the blue line with his wrister, assisted Balmas.
However, the Steelers found themselves defending a 5 on 3 penalty kill after Jones was sent to the penalty box for slashing, followed shortly afterwards by Petgrave for tripping who skated gingerly to take his seat after blocking a shot on the delayed penalty call.
It was at this point the Storm took full advantage with two goals in less than 60 seconds at (33.38) and (34.16). The first goal scored by ex-NHL man, Joe Morrow who repeated Saucerman’s effort from the other end with a top corner effort from the blue line, followed by Johnny Corneil going to the dirty area around the blue paint to finish off a rebound and get the Storm back to within one from nowhere.
Another Petgrave penalty was killed off by the Steelers later in the period, but it was the travelling team with the best chance short-handed as Neumann stripped his man of the puck in the Storm zone on the forecheck and found Vallerand who went backhand, forehand on Weninger but was just unable to finish.
All to play for as the teams headed into the third with only one goal seperating them.
Third Period (3-6)
Nerves were rattled for the Steelers as the Storm drew level early in the third period at (42.07). As the teams battled for the puck in the corner, Tyler Hinam was left all alone who slipped his backhand underneath Marrone to tie the game up. Assists to Martan and Corneil.
The Steelers were then required to kill off their 6th and 7th penalties of the game when Jones was called for tripping, followed by a boarding call on Dowd in the 50th minute.
However, the Dowd penalty seemed to spark the Steelers back into life when a broken play at the Steelers blue line was picked up by Vallerand who skated the length of the ice to beat Weninger underneath his arm at (52.02) unassisted and short-handed.
The Steelers then restored their two goal lead four minutes later at (56.01) with a big assist from Mikko Juusola who put on the jets down the right wing to find trailing man, Mark Simpson at the backpost who managed to find the smallest of gaps past Weninger.
As the Storm took their timeout at (58.13), Weninger stayed at the bench for the extra attacker which allowed the Steelers to make it six goals in each of their three Challenge Cup games as Balmas fed Vallerand the puck around the face-off circle and he carried the puck into the empty net to seal the deal and head back to Sheffield with the two points.
Two assists on the night for Mitchell Balmas was enough to see him awarded with the Steelers Man of the Match award, as Joe Morrow picked up the accolade for the Storm.
The two points sees the Steelers sit comfortably at the top of their Challenge Cup group with six points from three games, four points ahead of both Nottingham and Manchester.
We now head back to the Utilita Arena for a home league game as the Dundee Stars are in town tomorrow afternoon. A 4pm face-off, see you there!