A Christmas at the top of the tree - that's Sheffield Steeldogs
Sheffield Steeldogs claimed maximum points to head into Christmas top of the league and well placed to progress in the cup.
The potential banana skin of the Solihull Barons was avoided with an early three goal blitz that made the result a formality.
Steeldogs won 8-2 with lots of ice time for everyone and back-up net minder Brandon Stones putting in very solid performance with a save percentage of 93.94%
A lunchtime face-off on Sunday with the Peterborough Phantoms was a bigger challenge - and 2-0 in 8 minutes only made it tougher.
Leading scorer Milan Kolena got the Dogs on the board before Tim Smith was ejected from the game on a hooking penalty that left most people shaking their heads.
This seemed to fire up Sheffield and they killed off the five minute penalty that followed and Kolena managed a short-handed strike to level the scores.
Sheffield scored the next three goals and never looked back and secured the win 7-4.
The victory was all the sweeter for having come despite the absence of the experienced pairing of Andy Hirst and Lloyd Gibson. Man of the Match Ashley Calvert stepped up on to the top line, showcasing his strength, power and ability.
Steeldogs captain Lewis Bell was pleased with another four point weekend to add to the strong season the team are having.
He said: “I couldn't be prouder of what everyone has achieved. Obviously we wanted to do well but I don't think anyone expected we would get to where we are now, top of the league and to be going so well in the cup too.
“Everyone is playing well through all the lines from the top to the bottom. We've learnt from mistakes earlier in the season and we're seeing the young guys really stepping up too. For a much changed team under a rookie coach, we have had a great first half of the season”.
The games don’t get any easier with Hull next up at iceSheffield but it’s one the captain is looking forward to; “It's always a good game, a close game when we play them – and usually a feisty one! They’re our local rivals so the guys will be up for it. Of course we need the points, so it all adds up to an exciting game!”
The Steeldogs have no games at the weekend but return to the ice after a Christmas break on December 27th for the home game against Hull and then a further home game on Friday 29th versus the Blackburn Hawks.