Last gasp defeat for plucky Sheffield Steeldogs
Sheffield Steeldogs went down to a penalty shot defeat at Swindon Wildcats.
They lost 4-5 after drawing in regulation time.
Games between the Steeldogs and the Wildcats have a habit of being entertaining, attacking encounters and Saturday's game in Swindon more than matched that reputation.
Sheffield came out quickly and both Arnoldas Bosas and Liam Kirk had early chances to beat Stevie Lyle but the ex-GB man denied them.
There was plenty of action at both ends of the rink but it took until at 28:24 for the first goal, when Tomasz Malasinki kept up his scoring record against the Dogs. However Sheffield came straight back with first Bosas putting the puck in the net and then Donatas Kumeliauskas powered through to put Sheffield 2-1 up.
A Kovar power play goal levelled the score with 8 seconds left in the period.
Sheffield came out fast and Bosas scored 24 seconds in to the final period - and Liam Kirk made it 4-2 at 44:25. Aaron Nell called his timeout and the talking to seemed have the desired effect. Lee Richardson capitalised on the Dogs failure to clear their zone before Hoog tied the game up with just over nine minutes left to play.
Both teams had chances to win the game but it went to overtime. In the extra five minutes Swindon failed to score when they had Hadfield completely beaten and the game was decided on penalty shots, the home side taking the extra point when Kirk hit the bar and Bosas lost control.
Hull Pirates 2 Sheffield Steeldogs 4
Sunday's Bradfield Brewery Cup game in Hull was billed as a friendly - however the two sides proved that meetings between the Steeldogs and Pirates are rarely that!
Sheffield made a good start, showing no signs of tiredness from the previous night and Tomas Brcko created the opener for fellow Slovakian Adrian Palak at 12:18.
Hull came back from the interval like a different team and Lee Bonner made it 1-1 at 21 minutes. The goal seemed to shake the Steeldogs back to life and after Lewis Baldwin dived in to win the puck, it was Palak who turned provider for Cole Shudra to score.
The physicality kept increasing and it looked like Hull would lose the services of Cizas when the Lithuanian took out Baldwin with a late, high hit - but incredibly nothing was called, despite Cizas sitting himself in the box.
In to the final 20 minute and Andrej Themar showed why he is top scorer in the league, unleashing a rocket to beat Hadfield. With the intensity building, the game spilled over after bodies crashed Hadfield's net. Tim Smith scrapped with Bonner and Macaulay Heywood took on Cignas as both sides showed how seriously they took the game.
Despite finding themselves killing penalties as a result, the melee did more for the Steeldogs and once they returned to full strength, Bosas squeezed a shot past Lakosil before Liam Kirk put the cherry on the winning cake to give the Steeldogs a two goal lead at the end of the first leg.
Coach Greg Wood was mostly happy with his team’s efforts over the weekend.
He said: "I was really pleased the way we played against Hull. 5 on 5 we were good for our money. We were the dominant team, we created plenty of chances. Anytime we run into any type of penalty trouble they have guys who can really hurt you, so we need to cut out silly penalties. We maybe took a couple of penalties that we shouldn't take.
“In Swindon, I thought we were the better team. We created the better chances and out shot them for two periods. If we can keep that momentum and keep everybody healthy, we are in a very good place. We have strengthened in three key areas and it's beginning to show.
“That's four games in a row where our energy levels and our competition levels have been really high. If we can continue with this moving into the final stretch we will be in a good place”.
Steeldogs next two games are against the same two opponents with Swindon visiting iceSheffield on Sunday (February 26th 5:30 face-off) before Hull are back for the second leg of the cup on Friday March 3rd (7:30 face-off).