Sheffield Steelers 4 Dundee Stars 2
Steelers bounced back into (joint) second place in the Elite division with a modest win over under-strength Dundee Stars.
Sheffield, who secured just one point from two defeats last weekend, were in need of re-discovering their scoring touch. And with Jace Coyle back in the line-up after his flirtation with an American club, they spent most of the evening on the attack.
It was a one-sided game but credit to Stars for keeping the score down.
Steelers are now 10 points behind Cardiff Devils, with four games in hand. With a third of the season gone, they need to crack on.
Dundee had lost their previous four games, conceding 18 goals and were without three imports.
Their journey to Yorkshire had started from Scotland at 9.30am. But they showed no sense of fatigue as they set about nullifying Steeler attacks and looking for breakaways, Joey de Concilys and Kevin Brujisten testing goalie Ervins Mustukovs.
John Armstrong missed a clear chance on the first Power Play, and the Scots exhibited their game plan by immediately countering, Vinny Scarsella almost breaking the stalemate.
Mike Ratchuk, skating on the left wing, forced a fine save but on the same play he got a second chance and flashed it home at 14:11.
Coyle celebrated his return at 16:49 by slipping a second past the overworked netminder Joe Fallon, who was once of Chicago Blackhawks’ books.
Dundee’s remote chances of a comeback were further threatened when Scarsella had to be helped off, although he gamely returned after treatment.
Such was the scale of the domination that the four-line champions were occasionally too elaborate in their build-up.
There was nothing subtle, though, about Yared Hagos’s slapshot which pinged off Fallon’s blocker and over the plexi glass.
But a Rob Dowd elbowing penalty gave the Scots a chance to be more creative and Mustukovs caught a strong effort from Scarsella but couldn’t keep out a long range low blue-line strike from Felix-Antoine Poulin, at 30:59.
After a patient move of cycling around the offensive zone involving man of the match Zack Fitzgerald, Armstrong’s wrist shot found the far bottom corner of the net for 3-1 (37:16).
A Davey Phillips turnover led to a chance for Scarsella at the start of the third period, but he wasted it.
Then Nelson’s backhander was gloved by Fallon.
But then came the move of the match, a fine passing transition completed by the fourth line, Luke Ferrara converting (48:11).
But Stars closed the gap to 4-2 through Brett Switzer (50:51) and pulled their goalie with 90 seconds left without reward.
A game not to live long in the memory - lacking in atmosphere as it frequently is at iceSheffield - but two points in the bank.