A week after a 5-2 defeat at the Spectrum, Sheffield Steeldogs found themselves back there and looking to bounce back from shipping 22 goals in their last two games
Despite conceding a goal at 2:43 the Steeldogs looked like a different team to the one ripped apart in their playoff opener. Hemmings put Guildford Flames in front early on but the Dogs were very much in the game and in the 13th minute Stanislav Lascek broke through the Flames defence to beat Will one on one.
Before the period finished, a shot from close range by Maslonka made it 2-1 to Guildford however the Steeldogs came roaring back and an Arnoldas Bosas back hand flick tied it at two a piece after the break.
In a tense, competitive game the decisive moment came in the 44th minute; Ben Morgan had his stick taken off him but nothing was called and following a scramble, Santavuori put the puck in the goal. Sheffield protested that the net had been knocked off before the puck crossed the line but the goal was given.
The Steeldogs created chances but just couldn’t find the bounce to beat Will in the Flames net and lost by a goal.
Final score: Guildford Flames 3 Steeldogs 2
*Telford won the league with room to spare and lost very few games along the way.
Their line-up, stacked with talent had put seven goals past Peterborough in 20 minutes on Saturday and they clicked in to gear immediately on Sunday, Jason Silverthorn scoring after 101 seconds, against Steeldogs.
It was the first of mini avalanche and by the end of the period the Dogs were 5-0 and playing only for pride.
They showed more life in the remaining 40 minutes with Arnoldas Bosas scoring early in the second and Donatas Kumeliauskas adding a second at the end. Lascek added a power play strike as the Steeldogs ended up losing 8-3
Bench Coach Dayle Keen was clear on where things went wrong: “The first period really let us down, we didn't start on time and that's something that we talked about in the room and we really focus on.
"We played Telford a couple of weeks ago and they couldn't match our intensity, for some reason tonight our intensity wasn't there. We called our timeout early and a few words were spoken. We seemed to get a reaction from that but at the end of the day when you give up three goals in ten minutes it's hard to climb back up. But if we look at the game period by period, we tied the second and third.
“The Guildford game was a very different performance. When we turn up and commit we are really hard to beat. As a coach you want your team to be hard to beat. Teams do struggle to beat us when we play to our systems. Again we had lots of positives to carry over from that game which we didn't build on tonight.
“We have to keep pushing and plugging away, the guys have the talent and effort. There's no team with a bigger heart in this league. We must remain as a unit and look at what we have done well.
It's not impossible for the Steeldogs to qualify for the play off finals. We have two more home games and an away game. If we battle we will be successful. It depends on how much we want it”.
The Steeldogs have two must win home games this week with Peterborough on Wednesday (7:30) in a Kids Go Free game and on Friday against Guildford (7:30)