Last gasp victory: Sheffield Steelers 3-2 Nottingham Panthers (final score)

Ryan Martindale made a scoring debut for Sheffield Steelers' in the home Challenge Cup Group A match against Nottingham Panthers this evening.

Evan McGrath. Pic by Hayley Roberts
Evan McGrath. Pic by Hayley Roberts

The 26-year-old from Ontario went straight off a trans-Atlantic plane into the Steelers' first line and first power play unit.

Tall and powerful, he played his part in a lively start to a game Steelers had led 3-0 but were pegged back in the later stages.

Evan McGrath. Pic by Hayley Roberts

Sheffield had been defeated 5-2 at Rich Chernomaz’s side in the Challenge Cup in the opening game of the season.

But they were noticably the better team in the first period.

They exerted a lot of pressure and Panthers weren't at the races until a half chance arrived for Justin Kovacs at 6;40.

Nottingham, leaders in the league, have had mixed recent form: winning in Belfast Giants' rink, losing at home to Glasgow Clan but beating Cardiff Devils, midweek.

Jordan Owens drives towards Sam Gospel's net. Pic: Hayley Roberts

They went behind with a brilliant goal from d-man Ryan Martinelli, his first for the club.

He blocked an effort at his own end, set up a rush, and then delayed arrival just in time to strike home, picking up an injury in the process from a high hit.

Then Martindale celebrated his arrival with a neatly-taken second Steelers goal at 18:56

Paul Thompson's men were good value for the league, which had revitalised the crowd.

Ryan Martindale checks in at the Arena, pre Panthers' game

And the fans were on their feet at 26;22 when Panthers' goalie Sam Gospel dropped a clanger.

The 24-year-old seemed to have plenty of time to pass the puck, but attempted something too intricate and Tanner Eberle cashed in, knocking home into an empty net.

Panthers were now in the position where they had to look a completely different side in the final 20 minutes.

Jackson Whistle defied Tommy Hughes and Robert Farmer, but he couldn't keep a penalty shot from Alex Guptill out as Nottingham reduced the margin to 3-1.

Whistle switched off though and Panthers' Guptill swept in his second at 57:47.

That set up a nervous finale, but Sheffield did enough to hold on.

*Jordan Owens is a doubt for tomorrow night, at Coventry Blaze.