Sheffield Steelers 3
Dundee Stars 1
STEELERS last night succeeded in securing maximum points in their only home match in a sequence of eight outings - and confirmed the signing of a new player.
Rugged American Nick Duff, 26, will join the Sheffield defensive corp this week.
Matt Stephenson suffered an abdominal injury before last night’s win and may be out for a while. So it is unlikely that anybody will be shipped out immediately to accommodate the new import.
Last night, while it wasn’t a performance that had fans on the edge of their seats, the result increased pressure on league leaders Belfast Giants.
Sheffield are nine points behind the Giants with six games in hand. They had Luke Fulghum to thank for their latest victory.
The winger scored twice and, on another night, could have had a hat trick.
Goalie John DeCaro had only one serious save to make in the first session, defying Dundee’s new Polish-Canadian forward Mark Kolanos.
Other than that, Sheffield mounted wave after wave of attacks, putting enormous strain on brilliant visiting goalie Chris Whitley.
On the game’s first Power Play, Sheffield rained in six shots before finding the net. Jeff Legue powered a shot down the middle and Colt King got the slightest of touches for 1-0.
King has been a fine acquisition for the club - he says he’d be happy to stay for a second season - and he inflicted an eye-watering hit on Kolanos.
The Taysiders were fortunate to be just one down in the first interval, Ashley Tait, twice, Chad Huttel and Fulghum all producing moments of danger.
It was Fulghum who doubled Sheffield’s lead early in the second session - and that should have been the game done and dusted.
But the continuing territorial advantage they couldn’t turn that advantage into goals, Jason Hewitt coming the closest by hitting the pipework.
A warning sign flashed for Ryan Finnerty’s men on their first penalty kill, with AJ MacLean hitting the bar.
They failed to learn the lesson and Lee Mitchell skipped in from the blue line and set up a goal for ex Steeler Jeff Hutchins. Mitchell then almost levelled, DeCaro having to bounce the puck away off his glove.
Fulghum put Sheffield back in the driving seat at 43;48. The man of the match drifted across into the left circle and crashed a shot low into the goalie’s far side for 3-1.
Tait missed a glorious chance for an empty net goal with 40 seconds left, inexplicably putting the puck wide of the unguarded cage.