Another dominant performance for the Steelers saw them extend their lead at the top of the Elite League to 14 points this evening as they came out victorious by six goals to one against the Dundee Stars.
A brace from Ciampini who ended on 2+1 and got his chance at a first Eddy for the club was added to by Balmas, Dowd, Vallerand and Shudra as the Steelers dominated throughout and hardly looked to get out of second gear all evening.
Marco Vallerand came up just short of a Gordie Howe hat-trick dropping the gloves in the first period with Harms before one-timing a beauty on the powerplay from his favourite position in the second period as the Elite League season now enters the second half.
The Steelers were looking to make it 14 consecutive victories this evening as the Dundee Stars were in town after the Steelers came out victorious in a hard-fought encounter last night on the road with a 5-3 victory over the Manchester Storm.
Tonight also marked the half way point of the league campaign in game 27 of 54 as the Steelers hold a commanding 12 point lead at the top of the table with the Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils chasing in second and third. However, with both those teams out of action tonight, the Steelers would have been looking to add to the total at go 14 points clear.
Coach Fox named the same roster as last night with the club awaiting the returns of injured squad members Sam Jones, Brandon Whistle and Brett Neumann.
First Period (3-0)
Three goals in less than three and half minutes gave the Steelers a great advantage heading in the second period as they returned again to scoring in bunches.
It was a pretty even start to the game with both teams finding their feat and getting efforts away on both netminders, Greenfield and Carr despite there being no grade-A chance for either. Frustration started to get to the Steelers bench as a couple of tripping penalties seemed to go amiss from the officials.
However, frustration was converted into ruthlessness as the Steelers went bang, bang, bang before the Stars knew what had hit them.
It wasn’t the prettiest goal that got the Steelers going but they all count as Balmas circled Carr’s goal and looked to backhand it out infront of the blue paint only to take a deflection of both a Stars defender and netminder Carr’s skate and into the back of the net for an unassisted goal credited to Balmas at (13.14).
Just under two minutes later at (15.06) and it was two for the Steelers as Ciampini picked up the puck in the high slot from Saucerman, skated in on Carr and ripped his effort top shelf leaving Carr with no chance.
There was hardly time to update the socials before the Steelers went three up at (16.43). Dowdy heading towards the ice but no problem for the Captain as he still had the presence of mind to beat Carr over his glove as Shudra and Nevalainen picked up the assists on the play for this one.
Fisticuffs then ensued around the Stars bench in the 17th minute as Harms took exception to Vallerand. No major blows landed by either party as they both were sent to the box for fighting with Carter Johnson also picking up an extra minor for throwing a punch from the bench on a defenceless Vallerand giving the Steelers the man advantage.
The Stars went on to kill off the penalty as both teams would start with five skaters in the second period and the Steelers with a three goal advantage.
Second Period (5-0)
Dominance for the Steelers after forty minutes as they went on to add another two goals in the second period with the Stars showing very little coming the other way, but as always, Greenfield more than solid whenever called upon.
The Stars somehow managed to keep the scoreline at 3-0 until (29.40) before Daniel Ciampini bagged his second of the night, finishing off a lovely tic-tac-toe play between himself, Watling and Vinnell as Ciampini had the goal open up for him at the back post and he made no mistake.
Five then up for the Steelers on the powerplay at (32.22) after Sean Allen was called for boarding against Scott Allen in his own zone as the Starts looked to exit. Classic powerplay goal that we’ve seen so many times from Vallerand in his favourite position around the right-wing face-off circle and finished with a great one-time after accepting the puck from Colton Saucerman. Mitchell Balmas with the secondary assist.
The Steelers continued to put pressure on Carr’s goal but were unable to find a sixth as they headed into the third very comfortable.
Third Period (6-1)
With all the hard work done in the first and second period, the Steelers deservedly went down a gear to see off the contest and take advantage of their five-goal lead.
The notch down in intensity did give the Stars their opportunity to get themselves on the scoreboard early in the period at (43.14). Credit to Spencer Naas with a nice finish over the glove of Greenfield from the slot with assists credited to Valentini and Dow.
The Steelers continued to create their own chances, keeping Kevin Carr very busy down the other end, finishing with 43 shots on the goal of Carr, compared to only the 18 offered on Greenfield’s throughout the sixty. Greenfield therefore finishing with another impressive 94.44% save percentage.
This squad doesn’t ever let off too much though and reinstated the five goal advantage with only 37 seconds to play at (59.23). It’s said you create your own luck and it was another piece of fortune for the Steelers similar to the first as Cole Shudra looked to send the puck out front from behind the goal only to find the skate of Kevin Carr once again and deflect the puck into the back of the net as Ciampini was awarded with the assist.
Awards & Table
Post-game, Spencer Naas took his teams Man of the Match award back to Scotland before Daniel Ciampini was bestowed the honour for the Steelers with 2+1 on the night. A mind-blowing fact being the first Eddy of Ciampini’s Steelers career as he took off to the Steelers theme park for a ride on the Roller Coaster!
With the Giants and Devils out of action, the Steelers now hold a 14-point lead over the top of the Elite League table as they go to 14 games unbeaten.
Up next for the Steelers is a double-header weekend against the Fife Flyers as the Steelers make the journey up North on Saturday before the Flyers return the favour travelling South on the Sunday night. 4pm face-off on Sunday – see you there…!