Pandamonium for the champs

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Edinburgh Capitals 3 Sheffield Steelers 6 (Sunday)

Edinburgh Capitals 2 Sheffield Steelers 4 (Saturday)

STEELERS skaters were among hundreds of disappointed visitors as Edinburgh’s Giant Pandas were removed from display because of colic.

But the visitors took their frustration out on misfiring Capitals, plundering four points and creating panda-monium in the Murrayfield men’s rearguard. On Saturday, Sheffield recorded their eighth straight win. And, 24-hours later, they repeated the dose. The double has set the defending champions up for a crucial spell. They now have five games between now and February 14, four at home.

And player/coach Ryan Finnerty said: “February is a make or break month for us.Some of the games are against teams ahead of us in the standings. We’re placing a lot of emphasis on the next few weeks.”

Finnerty added: “We started slowly on Saturday after a long road trip. John DeCaro pulled us out. By the second period we made sure and once we were at 4-1 it was comfortable.”

Mike Ramsay broke the deadlock in the 15th minute and Jason Hewitt made it 2-0 four minutes later to hand the visitors a 2-0 lead at the break. Edinburgh halved the deficit when Marcis Zembergs netted from close in after Sheffield failed to clear the puck.

But it was all over when Steelers fired two goals in 102 seconds to take took control. Skipper Jonathan Phillips scored in the 34th minute and Colt King made it 4-1 in the 35th. Steelers throttled back in the third and Zembergs claimed his second with three minutes left.

On Sunday, Sheffield expected a backlash from Capitals but Steve Birnstill had other thoughts. The 26-year-old defenceman claimed a treble.

It looked as if Sheffield would skate away with two easy points when Ashley Tait netted after 68 seconds and Birnstill made it 2-0 after seven.

But Rene Jarolin pulled one back on the power play after 15 minutes before Birstill made it 3-1 two minutes into the middle session on the power play.

Peter Holecko kept home hopes alive with a second. Birnstill had other ideas and he collected his third to make it 4-2 with 11 minutes left.

Edinburgh replied through Richard Hartmann five minutes later to narrow the gap to a goal but up stepped Matt Stephenson with two goals in two minutes, the second on the power play, to make it 6-3.