Crunch: car crash loss for Ben’s skaters

Ben Simon puts the Steelers ahead
Ben Simon puts the Steelers ahead
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Sheffield Steelers 3

Hull Stingrays 4

THIS hasn’t been the best few days in Sheffield Steelers player-coach Ben Simon’s life.

On Friday he had a minor car bump - the other party being a Nottingham Panthers fan!

Then his top of the table team lost their edge - and both points - in an unexpected home defeat by seventh-place Hull Stingrays.

But captain Jonathan Phillips was quick to point out the positives for the championship-chasers.

His team are still in charge of their own destiny - and it’s better to get a loss out of the way now, rather than the ‘six pointer’ at closest challenger Belfast Giants next Saturday.

Phillips said: “This result has been coming for some time. We played sluggishly against Dundee earlier last week and training hadn’t been the best.

“When we skate hard and are physical we are a very godo team, but when we don’t we’re a bad team. Now we have to go back to what we were doing well, getting the puck in deep and playing simple, and get this defeat out of our systems.

“I am not worried about us; if a defeat was going to happen, I’d rather it have been in this game.”

The result was Hull’s first league win on Sheffield ice this season.

Losing the previous two games by a combined score of 0-10 clearly gave them the motivation to twice come from behind to take a point.

It had all looked so rosy in the second minute when Jeff Legue despatched a power play goal.

It was something of a surprise five minutes later when Lee Mitchell did exactly the same to make it 1-1.

The third powerplay goal of the night fell to Sheffield player/coach Ben Simon at 15.15 and Legue seemed to signal another routine victory when he got his second at 24.20.

The strike was a triumph for Joey Talbot. He claimed his third straight assist; on the night he recorded his 300th all time competitive points for Sheffield. Stingrays should have been dead and buried. But the key goal of the evening arrived just 57 seconds later.

Drew Banister narrowed the gap to manageable proportions and at 40;44.

There was plenty of time for Sheffield to restore ownership of the match. Yet it ended a 0-2 period.

Rod Sarich was ejected on a five-plus-game misconduct for slashing and on the resulting powerplay, Konstantin Kalmikov netted the winner with six minutes remaining. Shortly afterwards, two goal Legue blotted his copy book to earn a 10-minute misconduct ...and the points had drifted away.

Hull coach Bobby McEwan said: “It was a big morale boost and shows they can compete with the teams at the top. To produce a performance like that in that building is a big confidence boost.”