One-nil results in ice hockey are rare but after 60 hard fought minutes in Guildford, the Sheffield Steeldogs defied the odds (and the shot count) to head home winners of Sunday night’s game.
The Flames line-up has had several changes since the beginning of the season and on Saturday they had given a return debut to net minder Dean Skinns who had proceeded to then shut out Basingstoke.
Skinns kept up that form against the Steeldogs but was more than matched by James Hadfield, playing in his first game back in Guildford, having won two league and cup doubles with the Surrey club. During the first two periods neither team could find a way past the goalies.
At 43.21, what looked like the turning point of the game happened; Hadfield was thrown out of the game with a major penalty for high sticks. This gave the home team a five minute power play and threw Sheffield’s back-up goalie Brandon Stones in to the action for the first time since pre-season. 78 seconds in to the penalty kill, Arnoldas Bosas stunned the crowd with a short-handed goal.
This spurred on the Dogs and with Stones carrying on Hadfield’s efforts, they held strong to seal the 1-0 win – despite being outshot 42-19.
The Steeldogs weekend started early with a Thursday night game. It was an unusual day for a game and the team’s performance suggested they were struggling with it too. Bracknell are bottom of the league and travelled to Sheffield with only two wins to show for their efforts so far and the Steeldogs had already beaten them twice this season.
However the Bees ignored the form book; Luka Basic put them in front early on and his team mates showed more energy and intensity than the Steeldogs. Any hopes that this was just a slow start were destroyed a by a second period that the Steeldogs failed to improve during and in which goals from Smith and Lascenko gave the Bees a 3-0 lead.
Coach Greg Wood had chosen not to dress for the game and must have thought with an otherwise full bench, that the Bees could still be caught – but a combination of misdirected shots, poor passing and some solid work in net from Sheffield born and trained Alex Mettam, left the home side scoreless and beaten.
Wood said: “Any team coming to Guildford are going to have to weather a few storms. Defensively we were very sound. They had a lot of chances but we kept them on the outside, shots coming from the boards not much from in close. The whole team has done well tonight, we’ve dug in and shown real character.
“I’m very impressed with Brandon Stones coming off the bench tonight when Hadfield took his penalty. He kept the shut out alive.
"It was a testing situation to put Brandon in but he played magnificently when he came in. I’ve said all along we have strength in depth and this shows that applies to the netminding too. And for Bosas to get the goal on the penalty kill was massive for us.
“The Bracknell game was one of the lowest points I’ve had since becoming coach, everyone was disappointed after the game, and there wasn’t much I could say. We knew collectively that we had to be better. Games like that are going to happen, we will have off nights but we’ve bounced back from that.
“At the moment it doesn’t matter where you are in the league, it makes no difference. We just have to keep working and getting the results and the positions will count in March. We need to stick to our systems and work on the things that we do well, the wins will come if we keep doing this. We will keep ourselves in contention and I know there is even more to come from this team”.
The Steeldogs will be back in action at iceSheffield on Sunday (5:30 face-off) when the Basingstoke Bison provide the opposition.