Sheffield Steeldogs got their season off to a winning start as the revamped line-up took maximum points from the opening weekend of the season.
The visit of the Peterborough Phantoms gave the Steeldogs an immediate chance to get a ‘monkey off their back’; following no wins in eight games last season – including a painful play-off defeat.
Things got off to a bad start when Tom Stubley put the visitors in front at 3.32 which seemed to stun Sheffield after they’d look the better team in the initial exchanges.
Having outshot the Phantoms in the first period, the Steeldogs levelled on a power play early in the second. Andy Hirst firing home from short range, set up by some slick work from Kumeliauskas and Mrna.
They kept the pressure up but found the Phantoms net minder Auzins in good form. That was until the final minute of the period when once again Hirst was the right man in the right place to bury another on the man advantage.
The Steeldogs played the final period without Kumeliauskas or Palak as both forwards picked up knocks. They had a slight scare with nine seconds left when Auzins skated in to Pavel Mrna but the Dogs forward was given a penalty. The Steeldogs survived and chalked up their first win against Peterborough in a long time.
Sunday’s visit to Bracknell looked the easier game of the weekend but minus two imports that challenge was increased. Andy Hirst gave them a great start with his third goal of the weekend and when Arnoldas Bosas scored a short-handed marker at 7.12 the Dogs took charge – and didn’t look back.
Bosas added a third and although the Bees scored two, the Steeldogs responded on both occasions; Wood and Mrna getting on the scoreboard. Bosas finished the night with 2 goals, 2 assists and a man of the match award – a quick return to form for the league’s reigning MVP.
Player/Coach Greg Wood (who picked up a goal and two assists over the weekend) reflected on what he’s taken from his team opening with back-to-back wins: “I’m over the moon with the start and the four point weekend.
"The thing I’m most impressed with is having played a little short for much of this weekend; every single player has stepped up. All three lines have got on the score sheet. We’ve really started as we mean to go on.
“This team might take a little time to find our identity, but so far everything has been really positive. Everyone has been a leader on the ice; we’ve seen a whole team performance. Every guy got maximum minutes. It’s been a few years since everyone has contributed in their own way, so that is a real plus”.
A strong start for the Steeldogs and their next challenge comes from another side who won both of their opening fixtures. The Hull Pirates will arrive at iceSheffield on Saturday night (7.30 face-off) with a very familiar face in the line-up as Jason Hewitt makes a return to Sheffield.
The teams built a fierce rivalry last season and with the British Bulldog (two ex-Steeldogs) playing for the Pirates, a lively game is on the cards.