Sheffield Steelers 3 Manchester Storm: Frustrating performance but Steelers push on in Challenge Cup
Sheffield Steelers’ Challenge Cup account was in the black tonight after beating Manchester Storm 3-1 in a group game at the Arena.
Tonight was Steelers' third Cup game, the team having won one and lost one, against Nottingham Panthers.
It wasn't the most convincing of performances, against Storm.
But it should be pointed out that they have only conceded two goals in the last two hours' play.
The first period struggled to ignite, with passes from both sides going astray.
It was frustrating to watch, but perhaps understandable after an emotional pre-game tribute to the wife of ex Steeler Mark Thomas, who died earlier this week.
There was energy on the ice from the likes of Anthony DeLuca and Tanner Eberle, but defences remained comfortable at both ends.
That was to change though at 12:50, when John Armstrong's hard, low shot rebounded to Eric Meland, who beat Matt Ginn from close-range.
Manchester, a fast team with an average age of just 25, conceded a five on three penalty and were over-run, Robert Dowd making it 2-0 at 16;25.
The second period was a poor advert for Steelerhockey.
Sheffield seemed to lack ambition and finishing power.
And they paid a price for that.
Cameron Critchlow summoned up some mid-ice magic for Manchester at 23;29 and Mario Puskarich halved their deficit.
Martin St Pierre had a solo chance to restore a two-goal lead but Ginn's glove denied him.
Sheffield could certainly have used a goal to steady the ship before the second interval. But Ginn was on his game.
The uncomfortable nature of the game continued after the break.
Aaron Johnson and Marc-Olivier Vallerand picked up injuries and Aaron Brocklehurst was clearly hurt in a late hit on the boards by Kyle Hope.
At least an empty-net goal in the final seconds from Vallerand made sure of the victory.
The night will be remembered for the tribute to Vicki Thomas - quite rightly, nothing could compare with that.