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.

By Bob Westerdale
Saturday, 17th August 2019, 9:48 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th August 2019, 10:59 pm
Steelers' Eric Miland v Poprad at iceSheffield. Pic courtesy of Hayley Roberts
Steelers' Eric Miland v Poprad at iceSheffield. Pic courtesy of Hayley Roberts

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.

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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.

Steelers apply the pressure: Pic Dean Woolley

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 hockey is back in Sheffield!