With a seventh place finish in the league already guaranteed, Sheffield Steeldogs closed out their league campaign with two away games, including a trip to their playoff opponents.
They went down 3-2 on both occasions, at Manchester Phoenix (OT) and at Peterborough Phantoms.
The Phoenix's temporary home in Deeside has proved a fairly happy hunting ground this season for the Steeldogs and a goal from Craig Elliott early on Saturday made a third win in four visits look entirely possible.
As the game progressed the Dogs showed more composure and it was Andy Hirst who put them two up when the Phoenix defence went AWOL.
A good start was undermined by mental lapses in the final minutes of the period; Baranek and Satek beating Sedlar to send the teams in level.
The second and third periods were scoreless as both sides played a controlled game but failed to really trouble the net minders. The 3 on 3 overtime period was dominated by the home team with Ben Wood firing the winner home for Manchester. Whilst the defeat was disappointing, the Steeldogs will be happy to have had the better of their Roses rivals and finished above them in the table.
Last up on the league fixtures was a trip to Peterborough to take on the league and cup runners up. With the two sides ultimately set to meet again in next weekend's playoff quarter finals, it made a strange finale and with the Phantoms having taken the spoils in all the previous games, the Dogs had a point to prove.
A fairly even first period was edged to the home side by a Susters strike.
A Pliskauskas power play effort made the task tougher and when James Ferarra broke away to score short-handed at 40.22 the game looked over. Ashley Calvert was on hand at 45.09 to bury a power play goal and put fresh life in to the Dogs. Lubomir Korhon scored number 2 with just over 5 minutes to play and set up a frantic end to the game – the Phantoms hanging on for the win 3-2.
It has been confirmed this morning that the Steeldogs and the Phantoms will meet again this coming weekend in the playoffs. The two sides will meet at iceSheffield on Saturday (7.30 face-off) and in Peterborough on Sunday (5.30).
Speaking after the game Steeldogs player/coach Greg Wood said “This weekend was all about building our form, getting a little bit of momentum and doing the little things right. It wasn't about results in the end, it was more about performance. We were working on little things that are going to stand us in good stead next weekend. We were working three lines tonight and seeing some guys getting regular shifts, such as Patto (Callum Pattison) who did a fantastic job tonight. Liam Kirk stepped up to the first line and showed fantastic potential. Cole Shudra again showed he is working his way to being a top line forward.
"We were understaffed tonight, we gave them more than a game and we put them under a lot of pressure. You can only have a winning streak for so long and I hope they pick us”.