History repeats itselfÂ as injury-hit Sheffield Steelers fall at Nottingham Panthers
Thommo out - Tom Barrasso in. The new Sheffield Steelers era got underway with unfortunateÂ echoes of what had gone before.
Under Paul Thompson's watch, the team had lost 2-5 at Nottingham Panthers on the opening night, a campaign which then went on toÂ attractÂ injuries.Â On Saturday Tom Barrasso's new team lost 2-5 at Nottingham and had a whole host of fitness issues toÂ plague them.
The results were the same, but the latest catalogue of wounded was considerably worse.Â Jordan Owens and Robert Dowd were out and joined by Chris Lawrence and EvanÂ McGrath. Then, Brandon Whistle failed to emerge from the dressing room.
This is a team that has struggled to score.Â Remove five forwards and the chances of that happening diminish even more.
Barrasso had mused before the game that "The longest journey starts with a single step."Â But with so many players out, the team was always going to stumble, rather than stride.
Indeed it reached the stage that defencemen Mark Matheson and Davey Phillips were drafted up frontÂ as Sheffield chased the game.
And so it was that 7,000 fans watched Sheffield's fourth straight defeatÂ under three coachesÂ (Mark Matheson led them for two games.)
Panthers had played Steelers just at the right time.Â What the team will look like when next they meet on October 27 is anybody's guess, given the need for new players.
Stefan Della Rovere, a winger with personal experience of Barrasso's methods after theirÂ mutual time at Valpellice in Italy in 2015-16, inadvertently played a part in Panthers' first goal.
He took a slashing penalty at 13:34. It was punished by a Kevin Henderson goal 20 seconds later.Â Luke Pither hit the crossbar and at 23:19 d-man Tommy Hughes added a second.
Steelers' cause was hardly helped when Tanner Eberle was hit by a 10 minute penalty for shootingÂ the puck after the end of the second period.Â An already struggling forward line was depleted further.
D-man Josh McFadden got one back at 41.53 but that was neutralised straight away by anÂ Alex Guptill reply.Â Tyler Biggs made it 4-1 and while Della Rovere scored his club firstÂ at 54;53 the game was put to bed by Guptill with 38 seconds remaining.