Dundee Stars 3
Sheffield Steelers 4
ICE cool Jeff Legue and Steve Birnstill netted penalty shots last night as Steelers edged out lowly Dundee CCS Stars in a thriller in Scotland.
The men from The House of Steel wrapped up win No 27 in 31 games and continued their stranglehold over struggling Scots side Stars, but they had to come from behind.
It was Steelers’ fifth straight success over Stars this term and Sheffield now have 54 points, just two adrift of arch rivals Nottingham Panthers who have played six more games.
Steelers’ playcaller Ryan Finnerty declined to look further forward than next weekend’s double-header at Edinburgh Capitals as the Yorkshire combine maintained their push for a second straight Elite League title.
He said: “Five of the games are on the road but we don’t look further ahead than the next game.
“Things are going well but we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves.
“We’ve got games in hand, but you’ve got to win them.”
Finnerty said: “We don’t take any teams lightly in this league.
“Our job is to continue to do what we’re doing, grinding out wins and that’s what we’ve been doing in the last two months.”
Steelers went into last night’s game on a high after winning their last six fixtures.
New defenceman Nick Duff made his first road trip and Matt Stephenson, who missed the last two games after suffering an upper body injury, was back in the line-up.
Geoff Woolhouse was between the pipes and Dundee, fresh from a 5-2 road win at eighth-placed Hull Stingrays, were minus poisoned elbow victim Jarrett Konkle.
They struck first when former Sheffield forward Jeff Hutchins netted on the power play after five minutes with interim player/coach Brent Hughes and new singing Mark Kolanos (cor) assisting. Chad Huttel was in the box for hooking.
Sheffield were level two minutes later when Jonathan Phillips shot home with Luke Fulghum and Steve Birnstill involved in the move. And the visitors edged ahead six minutes later when Finnerty struck on the power play with Colt King and Matt Stephenson involved in the move. Brent Hughes was sitting out on a two-minute hooking penalty.
Back came Dundee and they levelled at 2-2 through skipper A J MacLean (cor) after 25 minutes.
And Kolanos turned from provider into scorer to put Dundee into a shock 3-2 lead before the second break.
But Finnerty levelled with 12 minutes remaining and the sides stayed deadlocked at 3-3 as the clock ticked down.