Ice Hockey match report: Sheffield Steelers 1 Timra IK 4

Sheffield's Yiri Gula
Sheffield's Yiri Gula
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Steelers concluded their pre-season games programme with a third loss in four matches against top-class Swedish opposition.

While the results themselves aren't important, fitness, player-chemistry and team-systems certainly are.

The problem, after twin weekend losses to Timra IK, is how to assess a Sheffield side with so many players out.

With forwards Robert Dowd, Matt Rupert, Mark Matheson, Jonathan Phillips (injured) and Chris Lawrence (kit failed to arrive from Canada) in the stands, it was always going to be a tall order to score, let alone win.

Steelers had gone into Sunday's iceSheffield match on the back of two-hours without scoring a goal, following consecutive shutouts against Leksands (0-7) last week and Timra (0-2) on Saturday.

They went behind to a lightning-fast Timra raid; Hampus Larsson hit the post before Christoffer Jansson planted the puck beyond goalie Jackson Whistle.

Evan McGrath, top of the club's 'plus-minus' charts going into the game, got Steelers right back in it though 52 seconds later at 5;20.

Injuries have been the dominating factor so far this pre-season so it was worrying when a Ludvig Rensfeldt slapshot banged into netminder Whistle's helmet.

Sensing a weakness Timra mounted waves of attacks, every inch of Whistle's body being pounded.

Stefan Della Revere's moderately-high hit earned him a bizarre kneeing penalty and Timra went ahead after finding the spare man Rickard Palmberg to convert for 2-1.

The Swedes dominated against a Sheffield side further weakened when a puck thudding into Brandon Whistle's left foot led to him hobbling off.

And at 32;13 another PP strike enhanced the Swedes' lead via Mattias Guter, to 3-1.

Timra, who had the luxury of having three players on their squad they could afford to dispense with after the game, hit the post through Palmberg, in the opening moments of period three.

Jeremy Boyce was denied by Whistle, with a great save.

A tired-looking Steelers continued to attract penalties, an all too familiar aspect this pre-season, and conceded a five-on-three PP goal, with eight minutes remaining.

*Eric Neiley, who left Steelers in the Summer, apparently to retire, has joined Milton Keynes Lightning.