STEELERS moved to within a single point of league leaders Cardiff Devils after a comprehensive victory over their local rivals last night.
After an uncomfortable first period, they fully took total control of the next 40 minutes and are now firmly on the Devils’ tail.
Ben Simon’s men can go into tonight’s game with Coventry Blaze filled with confidence on the back of eight straight victories.
And the game was just 27 seconds old when Steelers’ first shift scored on them again, Rob Dowd’s shot embarrasing Craig Kowalski’s attempt at a routine block.
An absorbing clash of styles then commenced. Panthers were more offensive, while a steady rather than exciting Steelers formation concentrated on blocking the routes to their net and activating a speedy transition.
But Panthers’ right winger Rob Bellamy was finding opportunities while Jeff Heerema was aphysical presence around the slot.
Steelers Ashley Tait was hooked by Jeremy Van Hoof on one counter-attack, yet the Power Play chance rebounded badly on the hosts. Rod Sarich was stripped of the puck on a foray down the left flank and the resourceful American Bellamy scored, short-handed.
Seconds after seeing his shot glove-saved by Kowalski, Simon executed a perfect wrap-around at 21;27 to put Steelers back ahead. Ten minutes later he tucked away another in the crease- a goa.
Fourth-placed Nottingham were easily subdued in the third period.
When Tait smashed high into the net at 48;42, Notts pulled off their import goalie.
That didn’t help their cause, with Joey Talbot walking in two further strikes to deepen the visitors’ misery.
n Some referees and linesmen have been complaining about a delay in getting paid thousands of pounds in wages and expenses. The Elite League spokesman denied there was a problem, but Sheffield owner Paul Ragan confirmed had been an “administrative hitch.”