Newcastle Vipers 3
Sheffield Steelers 4
Derek Campbell said it was a case of “job done” for Sheffield Steelers as they returned to the top of the table after a hard earned win over Newcastle.
Steelers triumphed by the odd goal in seven and stayed on course for title glory. In the main, they were in control in Whitley Bay last night, edging closer to the Elite League title, which Ben Simon’s men can win by beating Glasgow side Brahead Clan next weekend.
Campbell said: “We are almost there but we must keep our focus. This is always a tough place to come, yet we’ve stayed calm and played our natural game. Now we have to put it all into the next two games. If we play the way we know we can then we’ll be ok.”
Vipers were playing for nothing but pride after Saturday’s loss meant they failed to qualify for the play offs. Vipers lost 9-0 in Belfast but started last night in solid fashion with Tods Hartmanis sending a minute shot just wide. Danny Stewart’s strugglers also wasted two powerplay opportunities in the opening eight minutes. Sheffield made them pay for their lack of penetration. On nine minutes Joey Talbot netted from close range. They doubled the lead four minutes when Rod Sarich fired at goal and Ben Simon flicked it home. The second period started with Steelers raining in more shots but Vipers goalie Charlie Effinger pulled off some quality stops.
But he could do nothing to prevent Ashley Tait slot home on 25:03 with an unassisted strike and extend the lead even further. Tait was denied another when Effinger’s glove save diverted his slapshot round the pipes. With seven minutes left of the second period a well struck shot by Newcastle coach Stewart gave the home side hope. That was how it stayed until the final frame.
Steelers went 4-1 up two minutes into that final session when Sarich netted after Campbell combined with Rob Dowd.
Vipers wouldn’t give in though and Jaroslaw Rzeszutko raced clear with nine minutes left to pull another one back.
Vipers forced a tense finish when Stewart grabbed his second in the last minute.
On Saturday, Steelers were unwilling combatants in the 20-20 ‘Aladdin Cup’” tournament at Nottingham. With minds on league combat rather than an income-stream for the clubs involved, Sheffield’s results told their own story. They lost 5-1 to Coventry Blaze, a team which has struggled all season and 5-2 to Panthers. But they also posted a 2-1 victory over Braehead Clan, who, went on to win the final and who Steelers must now beat twice to ensure the title is theirs.