Steelers One Game Away From Grand Slam Glory – Steelers 6:3 Flames

Game Summary

The Steelers booked their place in the Play Off Grand Final this evening with a three goal victory over the Guildford Flames and their adopted fans throughout the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.

With the teams tied at one apiece after two periods, the Flames then went ahead early in the third before the Steelers put their foot on the accelerator to add three unanswered in less than five minutes, finished off with a Scott Allen empty net, short handed effort.

Steelers other goal scorers were Josh Nicholls, Brien Diffley, Mitchell Balmas, Brandon Whistle and Daniel Ciampini as Patrick Watling also picked up the Man of the Match award for his relentless effort and two assists.

The downside for the Steelers being the loss of both Marco Vallerand and Brett Neumann to injuries during the contest as the Steelers will be on watch for their recovery and that of Mark Simpson who was sidelined before the game.

First Period [1-0]

Advantage to the Steelers after the first period as they found the only goal of the twenty on the powerplay with only 18 seconds remaining.

A fast-paced period from both teams was littered with chances as the Steelers had the better of the Grade-A’s. Patrick Watling being denied from close range early and Scott Allen’s shot midway through the period being sent high and wide as he was afforded a bit of time in the dangerous area following a brilliant shift from the Ciampini line, hemming the Flames into their own zone.

The netminders going on to face 18 shots between them with Guilford’s Taz Burman facing the better share at 11 at the time of the first buzzer.

Before the Steelers found their go-ahead goal, it was devastation for Marco Vallerand when he was stretchered off the ice after colliding awkwardly with the boards behind the Flames’ goal and would certainly be taking no further part in the contest with all fingers crossed for a quick return.

However, it was a man advantage that gave the Steelers the opportunity to get themselves on the board when Matt Alvaro was called for slashing in the eighteenth minute. The goal timed at (19.42) and finished by Josh Nicholls with a lovely tip front just in front of the blue paint as he deflected home a feed from top point scorer, Mitchell Balmas with Patrick Watling picking up the secondary assist.

Second Period [1-1]

Despite the Steelers adding to their lead on the shot count, the Flames were back level at the end of forty minutes, picking up the only goal of the second period.

It was more bad news on the injury front too for the Steelers as Brett Neumann was the next to be seen by the medical staff and ruled out for the remainder of the game as he headed down the tunnel clutching his arm and wrist.

The Flames goal coming five on five after the steelers killed off their first penalty of the game after Brandon Whistle was sent to the box for hooking his opponent in the defensive zone. Goal timed at (28.10) on a broken play as a battle ensued behind the Steelers goal with the puck being sent out into an open slot area to land nicely with Jordan Klimek who snapped one top corner over the catcher of Matt Greenfield. Assist awarded to Matt Tugnutt.

As the teams drew level, the physicality started to ramp up with both teams putting in several big hits. Daniel Ciampini and Ryan Hughes nearly coming to blows towards the end of the period, being separated by the officials and having two minutes in the box to cool off for roughing.

The Steelers therefore heading into the final period two major forwards down but hoping to keep pressure on the Flames and make their shot count advantage pay in the final twenty of regulation to keep their Grand Slam ambitions intact.

Third Period [6-3]

An all action third period saw the goal buzzer sounding on seven different occasions as the Steelers booked their place in the Play Off Grand Final with a three goal victory.

It needed the Steelers to dig deep once again and come from behind as the Flames took their first lead of the contest early in the period at (43.21). Matt Alvaro with the finish after an unfortunate deflection from Kevin Tansey’s stick took the puck to the back post of Greenfield’s goal leaving the Steelers netminder with no chance.

However, the Steelers were back level just over a minute later at (44.36). Brien Diffley with the equaliser from the blue line of the Flames zone, floating one in looking for a tip and getting just that, but from the Flames’ McParland as Burman was completely wrong footed.

Nobody has been able to keep Mitchel Balmas quiet all season and he was back on the scoreboard again at (49.39) as the Steelers found themselves back in front at 3-2. Patrick Watling using his speed to round the net and send the puck out front and Balmas made no mistake firing home into an empty net with Burman scrambling.

Backwards and forwards it went and the Flames were back level once again at (52.35). Steven McParland with a nice finish on a feed from Patrick Bajkov.

It was all Steelers from then on in as the foot was firmly on the accelerator as they left the Flames behind with three unanswered efforts.

The first of those from Brandon Whistle at (54.26). A great quick snapshot by the GB Centre latching onto a bouncing puck in the slot which was past a screened Burman in a flash.

Five then up for the Steelers shortly after at (55.45). Daniel Ciampini jumping onto a loose puck in the Flames zone, quickly turning and finding the gap over Burman’s shoulder to ease the nerves in the large Steelers crowd.

The nerves then settled even further at (59.00) as Scott Allen registered a short-handed, empty netter to seal the deal to send the Steelers into the Play Off Grand Final and chance at the coveted Grand Slam.

Patrick Watling awarded with the Man of the Match award for a fantastic game, as always non-stop when on the ice and also picking up two assists.