SHEFFIELD Steelers will play Braehead Clan in the Challenge Cup semi-final after obliterating Dundee Stars last night.
In a night reminiscent of the Broughton Lane bullies - nickname for an aggessive Sheffield team of the past - they overpowered Dundee to seal a 9-4 aggregate victory, winning 7-0 last night.
Stars looked like frightened kids. While every Steeler played like coach Ryan Finnerty used to. It was an even more dominating display than the 9-4 win over Nottingham in December.
A rather sheepish looking Stars had been late emerging from their dressing room for Face Off. The pre-match warm up may have had something to do with that, Steelers creating tension by firing pucks into Dundee’s net. Jeff Hutchins, Stars’ player coach, already on the end of a few ‘sledging’ remarks, complained.
He was confronted by Drew Fata and Steve Goertzen and then cross-checked by Matt Stephenson.
Hutchins chose to skate away.
Nic Riopel, who repelled 38 shots in the first leg, was a target for Steelers, who buzzed him aggressively. Stephenson thought he’d shot under him at 4;13, but the puck was wedged under Riopel.
There was a scare when Stars’ Mike Wirll, who scored two goals in the first meeting, went one-on-one with John DeCaro, but he unwisely passed instead of shot.
The campaign continued against Hutchins he turned away from a fight invite from Tylor Michel.
Steelers went ahead in controversial fashion. A Dundee man appeared victim of an uncalled ‘interference’ offence, but in the melee Shawn Limpright scored.
As soon as the puck hit the net, Matt Stephenson flew into Riopel, with no penalty given.
About 30 seconds later, Ashley Tait found Simon Ferguson on his own, and the latter fired a wrist shot high to equalise on aggregate.
The bullying and rapid offence was working and Jeff Legue scored at 17;08. Seconds later Ferguson made it four. And with Stars visibly folding before our eyes Michel, Sheffield’s best player, got another.
Stars recovered some dignity at the start of the middle session but DeCaro saved a Sami Ryhanen shot with almost contemptuous ease.
But the visitors, Hutchins apart, were pulling out of challenges and still looked intimidated, especially the likes of Ryhanen and Tim Kraus.
Sheffield’s sixth came on the Power Play, Rod Sarich’s shot deflected home by Jason Hewitt. And the seventh from Jonathan Phillips, at 50;25.
Riopel was then benched: the final insult for the demoralised Scots.