Nottingham Panthers 5-4 Sheffield Steelers (final)

Robert Dowd at Nottingham Panthers rinkRobert Dowd at Nottingham Panthers rink
Robert Dowd at Nottingham Panthers rink
Sheffield Steelers gave themselves a mountain to climb in a disastrous start at Nottingham Panthers tonight -but the fight back soon got underway in a thrilling yet ultimately losing night.

They allowed Brian McGrattan through and he buried a rebound off Ervins Mustukovs at 5.45.

Then, with Chris Lawrence serving two minutes for tripping, Panthers scored a short-handed, a cracking drive from Stephen Shultz at 9;54, a real sickener for the Steelers bench.

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The visitors tried to rally and hit the post, but went 3-0 down at 17;17 when McGrattan got his second of the night.

Brad Moran had the home fans delirious when he rammed a fourth past the thoroughly disillusioned Sheffield goaltender.

Not the world’s best first period for a team that may now be seeing its title chances slip away.

Steelers had to re-focus, avoid panic and ill-discipline and chip away at the lead to stand any chance.

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And five minutes into the second period they clawed back a goal when Geoff Walker and John Armstrong provided Guillaume Desbiens to make it 4-1.

Just three minutes later, Andreas Valdix fed off his wingers and added a second Steeler goal.

Suddenly it was Nottingham that were scrambling around for answers - but they had no answer to Valdix as he drew the scoreline to 4-3 at 39;07.

The next goal looked like it could be a critical one.

So it was gut-wrenching for orange shirted Steelers fans when David Clarke potted for Panthers at just 71 seconds into the third period.

Yet the roller coaster didn’t stop there.

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EIHL player of the week Colton Fretter scored to reduce Panthers lead to 5-4 at 47;02.

Steelers did everything they could, including withdrawing Mustukovs, but they couldn’t find a way to equalise - and catch up ground on the two clubs above them in the table.