Sheffield Steelers v Guildford Flames: Candid team-talk powered Steelers' revival
Forty minutes into Saturday's game against Guildford, Sheffield trailed 4-3 after blowing a 2-0 lead.
They'd lost their shape, were lacking defensively, were fallible on the penalty kill while goalie Barry Brust conceded goals he'd expect to stop.
Coach Aaron Fox said their frank, second interval conflab amounted to "internal accountability."
For his own input, he told players they could feel sorry for themselves that teammates like John Armstrong, Jonathan Phillips and Tanner Eberle were out injured...or they could simply dig themselves out of their own hole.
Justin Hodgman - in his second game back from Covid where he'd suffered sore throat and headache issues - said players had admitted they'd not been good enough.
"We had veteran guys, before Foxy came in, saying what needed to be said and we all rallied with each other and I think you could see we knew what was on the line," said the centreman.
Not for the first time this season, Marco Vallerand was the first to signal new intent. His 45th-minute short-handed equaliser supercharged the team. Inside three minutes they'd scored three goals to snatch the game.
Fox was relieved by the fight-back - and even more thankful that their League series with Flames is now over. Their style of play just doesn't suit Steelers.
"Their transition game is one of the best in the League, their 'D' love to jump in the play," said Fox.
"Our own transition defence probably isn't as good as our 'D' zone play. They like to 'run and gun' while we are a team that plays in a certain way and if we are going to trade chances back and forth it gets away from our strength."
Of deeper concern are mounting injuries. Phillips has an upper-body injury sustained at Coventry Blaze on Friday.
Armstrong has had a scan and Eberle is probably a week away from a return.
"Neither of them are considerably better" lamented the coach.
In-form Robert Dowd had put Sheffield ahead with a deflection off Jake Bolton's boot.
Fifty seconds later Evan Mosey seized on a clumsy Flames' pass and sprinted through the middle for 2-0.
They didn't deserve such a handsome lead.
And with Sam Jones called for slashing, Chris Gerrie successfully shot around Davey Phillips's attempted block. Brust was then beaten again to his left, and again on the PP, by Ian McNulty.
An exchange of power-play goals then excited the 5,477 fans.
Flames took the lead, but Vallerand's PP genius levelled the game to 3-3 after a clever pass from Mosey.
The momentum switched again to Flames, though, a deflected Levi Cable effort leaving Brust flat-footed.
The home side needed inspiration - and Vallerand's second of the evening triggered an avalanche.
Mosey buried a rebound and Dowd did the same, signalling three killer goals in two minutes 23 seconds.
Robert Lachowicz made for another nail-biting finish with a fifth for Guildford.