Sheffield Steelers 5 HK Poprad 2: Plenty of positives as Fox's men gear up towards new campaign

Aaron Fox has his first weekend of Steelers action under his belt after two games against a tasty Slovakian team - a Saturday 7-4 win followed by Sunday's 5-2 victory.

Sunday, 18th August 2019, 19:33 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th August 2019, 22:17 pm
Brendan Connolly goes in full flight against HK Poprad. Picture: Dean Woolley

There was no shortage of positives: Sheffield showed some admirable traits when they'd gone behind 0-3 in the first match and there was a feeling of togetherness you wouldn't associate with a team with three new goalies, three new defencemen and seven fresh forwards.

There was also ice time for younger players and some excellent goaltending over the weekend.

Goals too...hopefully there will be a lot more from this team to mirror their intensity; both of which were absent last season.

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The only hitch was a crop of early injuries.

On Sunday, imports James Bettauer, Martin St Pierre and Eric Meland were all out with Cole Shudra suspended for crosschecking the night before.

It hampered Fox's ability to mix and match forwards.

The Extraliga side survived an early Power Play in which two shooting chances fell to Robert Dowd.

And they were cursing the early-season form of Tomas Duba in the opposite net; he made a great stop from Jesse Palamo and Peter Bjaloncik, the former chance created by an unusual giveaway from Jonathan Phillips.

Sheffield grew into the game and some smart passing allowed Tanner Eberle a split second to bury the puck for 1-0.

Poprad's Samuel Mlynarovic took a misconduct penalty after elbowing Anthony DeLuca and the visitors conceded a second through Brendan Connolly.

Some Steeler players were suddenly icing very long shifts as they had to kill a five-on-three penalty to preserve their lead - Duba a puck magnet when shots got through.

Aaron Fox on the bench at iceSheffield. Picture: Dean Woolley

Steelers' three youngest players - Kieran Brown, Alex Graham and Jordan Griffin - were all on the ice during a brief punch-up in the 32nd minute, proof of their commitment.

As planned, Pavel Kantor came on as Steelers' replacement goalie at the haf way point...and was beaten by his first shot.

You couldn't fault him, his skaters were caught out by a player bursting out of the penalty box and passing to Bjaloncik for 2-1.

Another five-on-three penalty had to be killed - Steelers were living dangerously.

Dowd steadied the ship with a low shot (3-1) at 43;54 though. And John Armstrong backhanded in a fourth 11 seconds later.

Poprad's Patrik Svitana got one back at 48;04; (4-2.) But Jonathan Phillips hit the post after the move of the match with five minutes remaining before Michael Davies scooped in a decisive fifth.