RESULT: Sheffield Steelers 3-2 Dundee Stars (penalty shots)
Was this really a must-win game already - after just eight outings?
It certainly was - or more accurately a must-not-lose match.
Steelers had been beaten in three out of four home games and the natives are restless.Â They certainly were even more jittery at 0-2 down on Wednesday night, to Dundee Stars.
It's all a bit awkward at the Arena, right now, between some fans and the team's coach. Even to theÂ point that Steelers chose to removeÂ boss Paul Thompson's face from the opening video-tron credits to
avoid the booing it attracted last weekend.
A 3-2 win over Dundee only partially calmed the underlying mood at the Arena.Â A walloping win over Nottingham Panthers at the same venue on Saturday would be a lot more valuable.
The fans had welcomed back Matt Marquardt, in a Stars' shirt, and he responded by carving clean throughÂ Sheffield's defence after a turnover, his shot saved by Jackson Whistle.
A second Stars' breakaway saw Brian Hart finish tamely.
After scoring seven goals in their last four games, Steelers needed inspiration.Â But the only goal of the middle period came from the visitors, Jordan Cownie tucking home a reboundÂ off Whistle at 30;48 and Marquardt getting the goal he wanted.
You had to feel sympathy for the goalie with seven seconds remaining.Â He'd stopped another breakaway and shown composure after a miserable experience in his last game.
Paul Thompson's outrage at his team's lack of character bubbled over in the dressing room. He gaveÂ them a dressing down they may never have witnessed the likes of before.
When Davey Phillips took a penalty, it looked bleak at the start of the third period, but short-handed, Sheffield came good, Jordan Owens scoring.
That triggered an equaliser from Chris Lawrence, a dramatic way to score your first goal this season.
Josh Pitt scored the defining goal in the penalty shoot out, one which may have more significance than just winning the game.