Steelers hold a psychological advantage over Nottingham Panthers ahead of their Challenge Cup semi final.
Saturday’s win made it three regular season home victories over the team they love to beat most. And last night’s win at Coventry added to that tempo.
Steelers certainly have Panthers number, ahead of the semis (Feb 12 / 18) in a competition which offers the best chance of silverware.
A three-goal blitz, against a Notts side with five absentees, put them in control on Saturday.
They’d had to get a grip after penalties had stifled early offence. Steelers went behind on a 5-on-3 penalty kill, Leigh Salters homing in on a bounce off the back board.
They’d threatened before that, with Lynn Loys skating through Steelers’ defence.
But at 15;22 Tim Spencer tore down the left, circled the net and shot at Craig Kowalski, rebounding for Jonathan Phillips to equalise.
Sheffield enjoyed a superb eight minutes, starting at 21;59, when Nate DiCassmiro, despite being impeded, fed Steve Goertzen to score on his 100th EIHL game.
Jeff Legue and Drew Fata traded passes patiently on the power play before Fata crashed in a shot, Goertzen deflecting in. And then Rob Dowd finished on the turn.
At 4-1, Steelers needed to consolidate. But they conceded after Goertzen sat an interference penalty, David Clarke lashing in from the high slot.
That set up a nervous conclusion, the jitters settled at 58;35 when Jeff Legue’s shot deflected past Kowalski,.a goalie who still appears to be injured.
Last night, Lacroix announced his return with the opening goal at Coventry, who put six past Hull the previous night. A minute later (7;08) Rob Sirianni added another.
And by 13 minutes, the match seemed over, with another third-line goal, Jason Hewitt from Spencer and Phillips.
Coventry’s capitulation continued on 16 mins, with Fata scoring on the PP - and the home crowd were mid-grumble with Lacroix got his second a minute later.
The embarrassment continued for the home side when Goertzen added to his weekend haul.
Yet then. the inexplicable. Steelers conceded three straight. Kevin Harvey, Adam Henrich and the omnipresent Ryan Ginand all rattled past Frank Doyle in 13 torrid minutes.
It couldn’t get any more unpredictable could it? Yes, replied Ashley Tait who punished his old club when his present one was shorthanded.
But Steelers recovered to see out a crazy, yet maximum point weekend.