Match report: Sheffield Steelers 3 Fife Flyers 4

Ryan Hayes. Photo: Dean Woolley
Ryan Hayes. Photo: Dean Woolley
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Injury-hit Steelers stumbled into the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, losing at home, but proceeding thanks to a 7-6 aggregate win over Fife.

They will face the winner of the Nottingham v Braehead quarter-final. Panthers take a 5-4 lead up north for their second leg.

Steelers were missing Rob Dowd, who is on crutches and awaiting the results of a scan on a suspected Medial Collateral Ligament injury which will keep him out for weeks. Guillaume Desbiens was also missing.

Sheffield struggled without them while Fife, fast and direct, took the lead four times.

The Scots started two behind on aggregate and needed a strong start and a slice of luck.

They had a goal disallowed after 80 seconds. American centre Nico Sacchetti tested Marek Pinc with a wrap-around straight after, before eventually getting it right at 6;47, his blue line blast searing past Marek Pinc.

Fife could have had another when Sheffield left the back door open, but Stephen Gunn couldn’t deliver.

Justin Fox, Flyers’ top scorer, who had earler checked back to prevent Levi Nelson scoring, put another effort just wide.

Steelers were over-playing the puck on the iceSheffield surface but they were gifted an equaliser when Tommy Muir coughed up the puck in his own zone at 12;32 and Jason Hewitt slammed it home.

Steelers’ boys in blue conceded again 43 seconds into the second session, Ryan Dingle nipping ahead of Jace Coyle to direct the puck into goal. Pinc stopped Fox adding to it as Fife enjoyed a purple patch.

At the other end David Brown, who has an identical 88.7 save percentage to Pinc, blocked Mathieu Roy’s back-hander.

The visitors were clearly relishing the challenge of disassembling the home side’s aggregate advantage.

Steelers leading scorer Tyler Mosienko, carrying an injury, was subdued, and newcomers Ryan Hayes and Conny Stomberg invisible for spells.

However Stromberg formally introduced himself to Sheffield by backhanding his first Steeler goal at 30;37.

Parity lasted 52 seconds, Fife’s Nicholas Rioux giving them a 3-2 lead.

Steelers pressed more convincingly and deserved the 3-3 equaliser from Nelson, now the club’s second highest league points scorer.

But Coyle’s attempted clearance off the back boards was easily picked off by Fife’s offense and Kyle Haines made it 4-3, 18 seconds into the third period.

Fox was everywhere for Fife, blocking two shots in one defensive shift and leading his team mates offensively by example.

Steelers needed a goal to settle their nerves and Stromberg thought he’d hit the net with seven minutes to go but the ref ruled the puck had not crossed the line.