Bumper crowd watch Sheffield Steelers close the gap and join the 'teddy toss'

A pre-Christmas crowd of 7,975 watched Steelers smash home nine goals to move two points closer to league leading Guildford Flames.
The chaos of the teddy bear toss. (Dean Woolley)The chaos of the teddy bear toss. (Dean Woolley)
The chaos of the teddy bear toss. (Dean Woolley)

Sheffield no longer have any games in hand and still trail the southeners by five points.

But Steelers' 9-4 midweek mauling of Dundee Stars, with eight different scorers and 54 shots, keeps them well in the hunt.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dundee, two players short on the bench and smarting after being beaten 5-2 by Sheffield on their own pad on Sunday, made numbers count when they scored first, on a five on three power play.

Niklas Nevalainen and Brandon McNally were both sitting out minors when centreman Benjamin Sokay struck at 2:45.

They kept the lead only until Evan Mosey, levelled from Sam Jones and Brandon McNally at 9:23.

The goal signalled the fans' 'teddy bear toss' for charity.

McNally was provider again 49 seconds later on a go-ahead goal for Brett Neumann.

Brandon Whistle shoots on net. (Dean Woolley)Brandon Whistle shoots on net. (Dean Woolley)
Brandon Whistle shoots on net. (Dean Woolley)
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jonathan McBean almost rallied the visiting troops but was denied by Matt Greenfield - a save which was followed by goal number three for Sheffield from Tomas Pitule, with Jones staking his fourth assist in two games.

The goal the near 8,000 fans really wanted was the one from Jonathan Phillips, his first since chalking up his 1,000th appearance for the club 11 days earlier. It duly arrived courtesy of his fourth line colleagues at 24:16.

Ryan Verrier tried to make a game of it with a reply (4-2) but Brandon Whistle wristed home the fifth over the goalie's catcher.

The Scots weren't going to gift wrap the points to Sheffield though and narrowed the match to 5-3 through Swedish winger Romans Semjonovs.

Tomas Pitule celebrates at the bench. (Dean Woolley)Tomas Pitule celebrates at the bench. (Dean Woolley)
Tomas Pitule celebrates at the bench. (Dean Woolley)
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They had squared the middle period 2-2 and had given Aaron Fox some things to say in the second intermission.

Two goals in just over a minute brought a 7-3 scoreline, Robert Dowd and Mason Mitchell converting and the big home attendance could relax in their seats, seemingly.

Yet when Matt Petgrave sat out for roughing, Ian Parker, knocked in Dundee's fourth.

But then came the final onslaught.

Dundee were punchdrunk as Scott Allen despatched Steelers' 100th of the campaign and then added the 101st.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meanwhile Steelers' owner Tony Smith believes agents are sounding out possible moves for at least one player who is not getting as much ice time as he'd like.

Sheffield have 17 imports and are likely to cut one or possibly two before February's transfer deadline.

Across many leagues including the EIHL, players who have been healthy scratches are looking to find a move to pad their CV out so they get a job next season.

Owner Tony Smith said: "It is a natural situation that if you are not getting into the Sheffield team or elsewhere you might ask the coach to move on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It is fair to say that we've got more players than we can use.

"In my book it is healthy to have competition for places but we have got to lose one possibly two without a doubt, as the (salary) cap won't allow us over the limit.

"It is up to guys to perform at their best level and show coach they still want to be there."

Smith said it was the normal case for coaches or players to ring agents to establish where they can offload players.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Aaron (Fox; coach) is well connected all over the world, it wouldn't be difficult for a player of his to find somewhere if he wanted to leave."

Smith continued: "Nobody wants to be a healthy scratch, it doesn't do the CV any good."

Players like Adam Raska, Mason Mitchell and Brendon Connolly have had to sit out of the Sheffield team, Connolly saying recently that he will battle away to extend his present role on the team.

Smith said: "Normally, anybody lucky enough to be a Steeler wants to stay, although last year we had someone go because of personal reasons.

"Any moves will have be done by around February 13."