Sheffield Steelers 3-5 Nottingham Panthers

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Sheffield Steelers were without two forwards in their Challenge Cup semi final first leg tonight - and that lack of strength and firepower certainly showed.

Rob Dowd and Tim Spencer were missing from action at the Arena.

Dowd had an eye injury, while import winger was dropped by coach Doug Christiansen who reinstated centreman Jeff Legue back into the side.

In the first period, Steelers went behind when Leigh Salters scored, but equalised on a five on three power play via Chad Langlais.

Panthers scored two in 20 seconds in the middler period, thanks to Robert Lachowicz and Robert Farmer, neither goal showing Sheffield’s D in a good light.

But a slapshot from Drew Fata gave some hope in this two-legged affair.

The final period certainly gave Panthers something to crow about.

Petr Kalus scored twice, the last one six seconds from the end, while only Gord Baldwin could find the net for the home side.

Panthers must now be huge favourites to face Belfast in the final.

Read an analysis in tomorrow’s Star.