Sheffield Steelers 5
STEELERS moved nine points clear at the top of the Elite League last night.
Despite a nervous display at Sheffield Arena, they extended their advantage over second-placed Belfast Giants, who have three games in hand, and Cardiff Devils who are a place and two further points adrift.
Without concussion victim Rob Globke, (the American centre should be back tomorrow against Hull) Steelers were nowhere near as assertive as usual.
They went behind three times and conceded a freak goal from a puck shot almost the length of the ice.
While Steelers started the night as favourites for the title, Dundee hadn’t read the script. They had lost all five previous Sheffield games by an aggregate score of 29-5.
Determined not to be bit-players in the show, Tristan Harper body-checked Jerramie Domish so hard into the plexi glass in an early shift, a three inch screw fired out the other side.
Player coach Ben Simon was comprehensively decked by another big hit, this time by fearsome Finn Lauri Kinos.
And the uncomfortable opening worsened when Harper won another battle on the boards and set up Jay Lutulippe to score.
Penalties disrupted Steelers momentum and it was the 18th minute before they levelled.
Joey Talbot, the top point scorer without a goal in his previous three games, stroked the puck home past Czech goalie Ladislav Kudrna.
A bizarre middle period saw Steelers at their hesitant worse. An astonishing mistake by Ervins Mustukovs let Stars in; a simple clearance from the Scots’ defensive zone from Sam McCluskey, sailed straight the way up the ice and past the rooted-to-the-spot Latvian.
And while Neil Clark levelled, the visitors went ahead for a third time through Peter Cartwright which eventually was rubbed out by a 3-3 reply from Jeff Legue. Domish put Sheffield ahead for the first time soon after.
During the same period, d-man Steve Munn fought Matt Suderman in retribution for a cross check on Legue and a frustrated Derek Campbell smashed his stick on the bench so hard that splinters flew into the stand.
The final session was a nail-biter, with Sheffield unable to put Stars to bed until a late empty net goal from Simon.