Steelers carved out two solid wins after having to overcome a New Year’s hangover of negativity and injuries.
On Sunday they despatched Manchester Storm 4-1 in the League’s smallest rink, 24 hours after pipping them 2-1 at Sheffield Arena.
Sod’s law had arrived at the door of Steelers hockey over the weekend- ushering in a decidedly tricky challenge.
Having just cut Jesse Schultz from the roster, Sheffield saw another right winger, Colton Fretter, get injured on Saturday. And they had to do without Yared Hagos for some of Sunday’s win, after his face was sliced open.
Others had the flu bug.
But Steelers coach Paul Thompson, who has been desperate from some secondary scoring, was delighted to see d-man Mike Ratchuk step up score two goals at Altrincham.
“With all the injuries and illness going through the camp, these were character wins” the coach said.
“Our Power Play was good and now we have to use the confidence we have recovered from this to press on.”
Despite the lack of numbers on both sides, it was a vigorous start there, with Storm conceding an early penalty, a sign of things to come.
Just 14 seconds into the second PP of the night, Ratchuk’s deflected point shot gave Steelers a 13;26 lead, the converted d-man enjoying assists coming from Markus Nilsson and Levi Nelson.
Storm tried to rally, but they were deflated with 21 seconds before the first interval, when John Armstrong’s hefty one timer foxed Mike Clemente.
Ervins Mustukovs ensured a first session clean sheet with a super save from Mark Heatley.
But at 27:16. Heatley rightly received a 2+10 for checking Ben O’Connor from behind.
Thankfully, the GB d-man wasn’t badly hurt, and Steelers seemed comfortable. Armstrong unlucky he couldn’t add a second to his tally.
However, the injury saga blighting Steelers continued when Hagos was struck in the face with a stick, Connor Varley getting a game misconduct, Hagos getting stitches.
The majority of the 2,250 fans were getting frustrated by penalties, some of them giving the referee Mike Hicks a hard time.
Ratchuk though was on a roll and he despatched another Power Play goal at 52:02.
Just as a Mustukovs shut-out looked likely, Darian Dziurzynsk banged in a Storm goal with three minutes remaining.
But Robert Dowd potted an empty netter to ensure a 4-1 success, cutting the gap between second place Belfast Giants to four points with two games in hand.