Sheffield Steelers 8 Nottingham Panthers 4: Fox's men start season with win over bitter rivals after roaring back from 3-0 down

Sheffield Steelers opened their domestic campaign with a drama-filled 8-4 win over Nottingham Panthers in the opening round of the Challenge Cup.

Saturday, 31st August 2019, 9:38 pm
Updated Saturday, 31st August 2019, 10:39 pm
Panthers dominated the scoreboard in period one. Picture: Hayley Roberts

There was plenty of explosive action over 60 minutes and mistakes from both sides but Aaron Fox's men finished stronger, netting five final period goals.

They had been wasteful of a hatfull of chances and clumsy and disorganised defensively and on special teams in the early exchanges at the Arena.

But they put that behind them fought back from 0-3 down and definitely left the best to last.

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You could probably have predicted which player was to open the scoring in a 0-3 first 20 minutes, new Panther Mark Matheson returning to his old club and blasted in from the point after Brendan Connolly had been penalised for slashing.

Steelers then went on the Power Play but conceded when a collection of comedy errors gifted the puck and an empty net to Oliver Betteridge.

Sheffield had faltered twice in 84 seconds.

Chances kept coming and going for them: John Armstrong shot wide twice from similar positions and Robert Dowd and Ben O'Connor were out of luck too.

A turnover delivered a second short-handed goal for Nottingham, Samuel Herr making it 0-3 at 13;54.

While Steelers made such a hash of their special teams in the first period, they were red-hot in the second.

They killed a five on three penalty before scoring two on their own PP.

Nikolai Lemtyugov created the first strike for Michael Davies and then Robert Dowd created an opening which he finished off himself.

Anthony DeLuca in the thick of it

Eric Meland surged through the middle and levelled at 3-3 at 36;48.

A grandstand last session was needed to separate the teams.

And it looked like Panthers had taken the initiative with Herr scoring his second.

But Sheffield sent resources high up the ice and Tanner Eberle's high-intensity action assisted on a 4-4 tying goal from Martin St. Pierre.

There was no turning back.

The home side took the lead for the first time when Aaron Johnson rifled in at 50;43.

And 25 seconds later Eberle crowned a great period for him, personally, with the sixth.

Armstrong made the game safe with a hefty near post shot at 55;31.

Defenceman James Bettauer got in on the act with the eighth at 56;16 - which triggered an evacuation from many of the Nottingham fans.

The two sides go at it again tomorrow.