WITH Belfast Giants and Nottingham Panthers locked at the Elite League top on 35 points, Sheffield Steelers could not afford any more slip-ups tonight.
After last weekend’s humbling at iceSheffield by Edinburgh Capitals, Ryan Finnerty’s side - who started off the night
on 29 points in third spot- needed a morale-boosting win at Sheffield Arena.
Especially so after Colin Shields dramatically walked out of the club a few days earlier.
And there was also the fact that Cardiff Devils and Coventry Blaze are close on their tail, in the standings.
It was a big night for busy forward Lee Esders, who was effectively granted Shield’s ice time, albeit on a line with Jason Hewitt and Jonathan Phillips.
But on form forward Ashley Tait was an absentee with bruised ribs from a training accident.
His omission didn’t help in a lacklustre first period, which saw little action or incident.
Rod Sarich, playing wing in Tait’s place had the best chances, Jason Hewitt missing an open goal.
Steelers emerged from the first interval with more composure, Matt Stephenson scoring from the left flank.
That was levelled by a super strike from Tristan Harper. Yet the Arena side was not to be denied, deserving Steve Goertzen’s go-ahead efford, for 2-1 at 30;55.
The game remained too close to comfort; that is until the last second, when Sarich scored from Simon Ferguson.
Not, in all honesty, a night - or a week - to remember and cherish, in Steelerland.
Read a full round-up in Monday’s Star.