Sheffield Steelers 4-3 Nottingham Panthers (after penalty shots) – Derby lives up to its billing as Steelers fight back to win

Steelers v Panthers 'derbies' don't always live up to their billing...but this one certainly did.

Sunday, 6th October 2019, 19:05 pm
Updated Sunday, 6th October 2019, 22:24 pm
A ruck in the Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers match. Pic by Dean Woolley

Sheffield fought back from 3-1 down with five minutes to go to win an extraordinarily-tight match on penalty shots.

Goalie Tomas Duba defied Nottingham's penalty shooters, while Anthony DeLuca and Marc-Oliver Vallerand found the net.

The Challenge Cup group rounds are not always memorable, but this one thrilled 7,133 fans at the Arena.

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New Sheffield signing Marek Troncinský almost introduced himself with a goal on his home debut, pounding the puck off netminder Kevin Carr's blocker in his first shift.

Steelers, who executed an efficient 3-1 road win at Nottingham on Saturday, lost Marc-Olivier Vallerand for a while after he suffered a puck injury to his left leg.

Thankfully he re-appeared after treatment.

A four-on-four play saw Nottingham seize the advantage, Dylan Malmquist going close on the backhand before a bullet from Jason Desantis, at 6;47.

Sheffield had Tanner Eberle charging around like a young Levi Nelson, however the team composure necessary wasn't there when Steelers had a 5-on-3 Power Play.

Nottingham brought fewer than normal fans - but the travellers thoroughly enjoyed their side dominating the start of the second period.

They doubled their lead with another cracking goal, Brian Connelly, assisted by Brett Bulmer at 22:52.

Offensively, Steelers suddenly looked toothless, on a power play the two best chances had been created by Panthers.

It was the home team's defencemen who provided the push up front: James Bettauer back-handed wide, Davey Phillips came close and Troncinský chose to pass when a shot might have brought dividends.

Eventually, Cole Shudra showed the way, wrist-shooting low into the net from left-point, a goal which survived video review.

It was his first strike of the season - and you could see how much it meant to him.

Sheffield were caught cold three minutes into the last 20, Jordan Kelsall getting ahead of Kieran Brown behind the net and wrapping in Notts' third.

Aaron Fox's men were spectacularly unlucky at the other end when a Jonathan Phillips' deflection inched wide.

A moment or two of magic was required and it arrived short-handed John Armstrong's wrist shot narrowed the score to 2-3 at 55:20.

And the centreman flipped in the puck from close range three minutes left to take the match into overtime and dramatic penalty shots.