When Gord Baldwin celebrated his man of the match award by straddling his stick, riding it round Sheffield Arena while tooting an imaginary train horn, it rekindled memories of the wild jubilation following last season’s Play Off Final win.
The Steelers’ D-man’s solo skate, after Saturday’s Challenge Cup win over Coventry Blaze, (see www.thestar.co.uk/sport) was the final act in an entertaining evening. And last night, they added Hull’s scalp, despite a tight finish, to set up a quarter final with Dundee.
Celebrating Challenge Cup group game victories are a long way off from winning major titles. But Gerad Adams is slowly seeing the training, drills and game plans come together.
Jason Hewitt’s remarkable season continued in Hull. The veteran has frequently been the team’s best player and he put the side ahead in the third minute.
Steelers lost Colton Fretter to a game misconduct and their lead lasted 20 minutes - with Mark Thomas in the box Jordan Mayer made it 1-1.
But Michael Forney punished a poor Hull line change, for 2-1 at (46;52.) And Cullen Eddy - a summer bargain find - made it three at with a howitzer (51;56.)
The game was far from safe though - Eric Galbraith dragged one back three minutes later.
On Saturday, Sheffield’s early power play overpowered Coventry’s ‘D,’ goalie Brian Steward saving his side several times. But after some slick tape-to-tape passing, he was beaten by Fretter.
Blaze had not threatened until Derek Lee suddenly popped up to equalise at 4;14. They then had a purple patch where they happily used the expansive Arena pad.
But they flattered to deceive and Baldwin joined the forwards to convert on 11 minutes. He could have added another too. Ashley Tait’s desperation to stop Tyler Mosienko on a breakaway was ruled a penalty shot by ref Michael Hicks and the Steeler comfortably beat Stewart, for 3-1 at 21;11.
The middle of the game belonged to neither side - although it took a neat Frank Doyle near-post save to stop Coventry halving the deficit.
All Steelers had to do was shut the door in the last session. Always sounds easy, seldom is. Adams’ side continued to attack - in fact you had to keep reminding yourself they are two forwards out injured, Pascal Morency and Rob Dowd. But when they had to defend, they did and Doyle was unbeatable.
In one four-minute spell he broke Blaze’s heart with four first-class saves.