Sheffield Steelers 7 HK Poprad 4: Feisty clash kicks off pre-season
Steelers launched their 2019-20 campaign with a pulsating pre-season workout at iceSheffield on Saturday night.
Coach Aaron Fox's side came back from 3-0 down to win 7-4 against HK Poprad.
In a feisty encounter, Sheffield certainly blew away the cobwebs, following their Summer recess.
It took them a while to get in the swing, but they showed character and a hard work ethic for the last 40 minutes.
In the first period, they had looked like a team who'd had only a handful of practice sessions in a first period they conceded twice without reply.
They also looked like a team that had not time to rehearse a Power Play - three opportunities came and went.
There was an early warning when only a last ditch check from James Bettauer stopped a dangerous Poprad raid.
The visitors were ruthlessly efficient on their first PP, Guillaume Leclerc rifling in a wrist shot past Tomas Duba.
Samuel Mlynarovic got lucky when he somehow slipped the puck past Ben O'Connor and made it 2-0.
Steelers had manufactured the odd chance - they needed to get Marc-Oliver Vallerand in better positions and get more creative passing from Michael
Davies, who was the man to look for on the PP.
A slushy ice surface meant a delayed start to the second period at the sold-out iceSheffield.
But it was worth the wait.
While Slovaks scored a brilliant long-range shot through Andreas Strauch, (0-3) they were then completely over-run.
As poor as the PP had been in the first period, it was super-efficient in the second.
Robert Dowd skated the puck from deep to set up Brendan Connolly who lashed home on a 2+2 power play. Sheffield sustained their pressure on the
second half of the man-advantage and Tanner Eberle scored.
Anthony DeLuca's wrap around - the home side's third in three minutes - tied the game.
Poprad looked shell-shocked.
Lukas Paukovcek dropped a horrible, defensive clanger allowing Vallerand to make it 4-3. And Connolly improved the scoreline further on another PP
before the second interval.
Steelers, without toe-injury victim Martin St Pierre, had Duba to thank for denying a penalty shot when the play resumed.
The fans have quickly warmed to the Czech veteran and he reciprocated with some fine saves - making some of the stops look easy.
Eberle blazed over the bar on a breakaway as Steelers looked to add more to their account.
Eric Meland then took a puck in the ribs and hobbled off in the 46th minute. He may miss Sunday's repeat fixture.
He was getting treatment when his side made it six with a Nikolai Lemtyugov strike at 49;53.
The sides traded late goals, with an empty netter from Jonas Liwing wrapping it up for Sheffield.
Fists flew on the final whistle...ice hockey is back in Sheffield!