Sheffield Steelers - give us the League title, forget the Cup!
The galling sight of seeing two rivals contest the Challenge Cup in a Final on your own ice was certainly diminished by the fact that when the trophy had finished being paraded around Sheffield Arena, the non-playing Steelers ended the weekend on top of the Elite League.
While many neutrals will remember the weekend as the one that Nottingham Panthers lifted the Challenge Cup, Steelers supporters will treasure the memory of regaining top-spot in the competition that matters most.
Saturday’s 5-2 win over Fife Flyers was filled with positives that augur well for the remaining four games of the main campaign. The champions’ run-in involves two matches with Nottingham - who are clearly on a high after winning silverware at Sheffield Arena - a Coventry home game and a final trip to Fife.
Victory in Nottingham on Saturday would put huge momentum behind Steelers’ title defence - as will the return of Guillaume Desbiens and the fact Rob Dowd, playing with a two-feet long brace over an injured knee, is back. Another positive was Saturday’s two goals from Levi Nelson; they followed a period where he’d scored once in a dozen appearances.
And the goals came on the Power Play, which has lacked venom for much of the year and is now spitting out spite.
Saturday’s opening goals came from the 27-year-old winger either side of the first break.
It set up a cushion for a team rested after a week’s practice, rather than a cluttered schedule.
Fredrick Vestberg, Dowd and Tyler Mosienko ran up a 5-0 scoreline by 43;58.
Nico Sachetti gave Flyers a consolation with two goals in two minutes, as Sheffield briefly took their foot off the gas.
Steelers are now left to assess, in particular, the games in hand possessed by Notts and Cardiff. Check out Devils’ run-in: they host Belfast Giants back to back next weekend, then, on the following Wednesday, must travel to Northern Ireland.
Games at Manchester Storm and at home to Nottingham wrap up a trying period for the Welsh.
Meanwhile, at Sheffield Arena, the echoes of the ecstatic chants of Panthers cup-winning fans have died down. And could soon be replaced by South Yorkshire voices hailing league championship heroes.