Merry Christmas for Sheffield Steelers at Nottingham Panthers: Dramatic 3-2 penalty shoot out victory

Anthony DeLuca scored a goal he'll doubtless remember forever as Sheffield Steelers stole the Boxing Day bragging rights at Nottingham Panthers.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 26th December 2018, 7:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 4:14 pm
Jackson Whistle at Nottingham
Jackson Whistle at Nottingham

The home side had twice been in the lead but the nerve-jangling match went to penalty shots. The decisive one fell to DeLuca, whose 24-game stint with Sheffield has not always gone smoothly.

He had been criticised for his conditioning and team-play, at one point, at Guildford Flames, was a healthy scratch. But the 23-year-old forward held his nerve in sudden death penalty shot to score the 3-2 winner.

The teams had fought out a nip and tuck goalless first period, with the visiting starting line of Tanner Eberle, John Armstrong and Rob Dowd showing promise.

Eberel's fast feet and tricky handling opened up a chance but home goalie Michael Garnett was up to it.

Jordan Owens, perhaps buoyed by scoring for the first time in 16 games in his last appearance, was also denied by Garnett.

Panthers struck blood though through skilled Canadian winger Alexander Guptill, who tipped in Oliver Betteridge's drive, over Jackson Whistle's shoulder.

Anthony Deluca - matchwinner

Guptill could have doubled his tally soon afterwards.

But five minutes into the third section, Evan McGrath took control, drove the net and gifted Jonathan Phillips the chance to tuck the puck home for 1-1. The goal survived video review.

Guptill belted the puck into Whistle's pipework as the play swung to the other end. And Panthers squeezed back in front, when defenceman Jaynen Rissling scored.

With four minutes left Sheffield - for the umpteenth time this season - clawed their way back.

Robert Dowd

On a power play Mark Matheson skated through on goal effortlessly clipped the puck home, assisted by Ben O'Connor.

Steelers hit the post before the regulation time ended, signalling a frantic overtime, which included Owens taking a hooking call.

So the edge-of-the-seat spectacle moved to penalty shots...and what a drama that was.

Justin Kovacs and Dowd were the only scorers out of the first 10 shooters.

Away fans at Notts

That meant sudden death - Anthony DeLuca scored...and Kovacs missed to send the away fans into rapture.

The two teams do it all again tomorrow night, at Sheffield Arena.