Ice hockey: Guildford snuff out Steelers’ flame in overtime

Four games remain in a Steelers’ league season which will likely be remembered for a gutsy side that fought but failed to overcome its demons.
Rough stuff at the Sheffield v Guildford game. Picture: Dean WoolleyRough stuff at the Sheffield v Guildford game. Picture: Dean Woolley
Rough stuff at the Sheffield v Guildford game. Picture: Dean Woolley

After beating Nottingham Panthers 4-1 on Saturday, they ran out of steam on Sunday against Guildford Flames, losing 5-4 in overtime.

They just couldn’t find the winning formula, despite the fact leaders Belfast Giants lost at home to Cardiff Devils.

Sunday was a game they had largely dominated.

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In fairness, there had been no shortage of character or effort.

They just didn’t have the firepower to unlock a strong defence or the ability to make the Arena into a fortress.

This was Steelers’ sixth loss in 12 home games.

Guildford, who had struggled the night before in an unconvincing 5-4 late win over eighth-placed Glasgow Clan, were on the same points tally as Sheffield before Sunday’s action began.

They had won their previous two visits to Sheffield Arena and were good value for a 3-1 lead at the first break.

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In a high-tempo opening, Matt Petgrave powered a shot into goalie Eamon McAdam and Steelers’ speedy forecheckers tried to put Flames rearguard off their game.

But that is easier said than done.

Daniel Tedesco’s powerful skating had signalled bad intent to the home side before he was allowed to ghost in from the right flank and open the scoring.

Ben O'Connor celebrates on Sheffield ice. Picture: Dean WoolleyBen O'Connor celebrates on Sheffield ice. Picture: Dean Woolley
Ben O'Connor celebrates on Sheffield ice. Picture: Dean Woolley

Sheffield responded with a power play goal.

Petgrave and the Calle Ackered both whacked pucks on net, a rebound from the latter falling for Brett Neumann to execute.

But then former Steeler Ben O’Connor started to take a decisive part in proceedings.

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He set up a good chance for Tristan Frei then slapped in a cracking drive from the left point.

Matt Petgrave in the Sheffield v Guildford game. Picture: Dean WoolleyMatt Petgrave in the Sheffield v Guildford game. Picture: Dean Woolley
Matt Petgrave in the Sheffield v Guildford game. Picture: Dean Woolley

O’Connor then drew a roughing penalty from Brandon McNally.

On the Flames’ power play, O’Connor fired a shot into the crease, and Tedesco did the rest.

Sheffield’s play featured the exquisite stick-handling of Robert Dowd and the raw energy of Scott Allen and Neumann, but not the goals they needed.

They rediscovered their touch – to an extent – in the middle period.

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Dowd scored one of his finet of the season with a moment of genius off the right wing.

Then Marco Vallerand crashed in the second power play goal of the night.

Marco Vallerand receives instructions from Aaron Vox. Picture: Dean WoolleyMarco Vallerand receives instructions from Aaron Vox. Picture: Dean Woolley
Marco Vallerand receives instructions from Aaron Vox. Picture: Dean Woolley

But just when the 7,429 fans were sensing blood, Ackered took a tripping call and Ryan Tait put the visitors 4-3 ahead.

Steelers, without injured forwards Martin Latal and Brandon Whistle, swamped all over Flames’ zone in the last 20 minutes.

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Flame were all about denying access to shooting lanes, but they conceded a short-handed rebound goal to Daniel Ciampini to level at 57;33.

Overtime arrived – and so, probably, the end of the league season for Sheffield, with Brett Ferguson scoring the decisive goal.

n Steelers concluded their season-long league domination of Nottingham Panthers with a comfortable 4-1 victory on home ice on Saturday.

Their creative players blossomed, with Ciampini and Petgrave sharing six points between them.

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Aaron Fox’s men went 3-0 up, through a brace from Allen, and man of the match Danny Kristo.

Jeremy Welsh gave Panthers some fleeting hope at 41:22 but Ciampini put the match beyond doubt on the power play at 57:48.

It was the first ‘sweep’ of a Panthers’ side since the 2006-7 season, the Dave Matsos era.