Steelers kept their Challenge Cup campaign on track last night with a 4-3 victory over Hull Stingrays but it was a tighter than expected.
At times Sheffield look dynamic and dangerous, but there were spells when they lose their way.
Overall, they deserved to win by more. But defensively, in particular, questions remain unanswered.
Steelers were fast and furious from the off, piling in four shots in the opening two minutes.
Hull survived and on their first raid at 2:25, went ahead with a backhander from Jereme Tendler. It seemed to represent a wholly inaccurate reading on the scoreboard. The most frequent sound was that of shots thudding into goalie Ben Bowns’ yellow pads.
Jonathan Phillips hit the post and Bowns saved well from Tim Spencer. It was only a matter of time. And the equaliser came when Phillips fired home low for 1-1 , at 15:22. With the silky Max Lacroix taking some of the burden of creativity off Jeff Legue, it looked like another goal would be along soon at iceSheffield.
Rays came out quicker in the middle session, Jason Silverthorn striking Frank Doyles’s post. But gradually Steelers wrestled control back. At 26:14 Lacroix potted a rebound from close range to put the home side in front.
Phillips continued to be a menace, his promptings opening up lanes.
But when Stefan Meyer’s pass was intercepted in the offensive zone, Hull countered and Tendler prodded in his second of the night (2-2.) Meyer redeemed himself at 37:27 tucking home a far post goal. Hull are a plucky outfit and, on a Power Play at 40:43, Tendler flashed the puck to Derek Campbell, the ex Steeler re-directing it in.
Sylvain Cloutier hit the bar for Hull but Steelers got their act together and Aaron Nell scored his first goal for Steelers, at 44:11.
Bowns was the main obstacle as more chances rained down on his net yet Steelers still had to endure a nervous last few minutes.