Sheffield Steelers crush Nottingham Panthers after 'hairdryer' team talk

Sheffield's coaching duo don't put their skates on during game-time, but they were probably the main reason why Steelers chalked up a highly-flattering 6-2 scoreline over Nottingham Panthers on home ice on Saturday.

By Bob Westerdale
Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 8:30 pm
Tussle between Steelers and Panthers players.
Tussle between Steelers and Panthers players.

Despite all that is at stake, the home side had performed well below par, particularly in a middle period where they surrendered a two-goal lead.

It meant Aaron Fox and his assistant Carter Beston-Will had the task of confronting the team in the second break, pointing out they were being outplayed by a team with no EIHL league title to play for.

Coach Fox said: "We challenged the guys a little bit, we just said that team (Notts) doesn't have a lot to play for right now, they are winning the battles, winning the races, they are playing desperate hockey. We have got a championship on the line here and we have to find our game."

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He spelled out the team was not ‘good enough to coast. When we don't play a certain way we are pretty average and I felt we played that way for 20-25 minutes’.

The kick-back was a 4-0 final period, helped in no small way by Panthers failing to protect homegrown netminder Will Kerlin, 21, playing instead of injured Kevin Carr.

The victory was Fox's 100th win since he’s been in charge of the club.

A breakaway from Marco Vallerand triggered the opening goal - while he missed his own opportunity he regained possession and teed up Antonín Boruta for his first for the team.

A second goal on the power play was an unfortunate moment for Kerlin, the former Steelers' prospect. Robert Dowd's wrist shot hit Kerlin and dribbled under him and over the line for 2-0.

Nottingham had not deserved that scoreline, outshooting the home team 13-8.

They had been wasteful, though. Edwin Hedberg was wide for two chances and Kevin Domingue couldn't find a way around Rok Stojanovic's glove.

That carelessness problem disappeared for Mark Matheson's men in the middle period.

Antonin Boruta celebrates with Keeton Ellerby.

Matthew Lane's harmless-looking shot somehow made its way into Sheffield's net at 28:37.

Panthers outskated Steelers and it was no huge surprise when they levelled things up.

Tanner Eberle drew a slashing penalty for Sean Richards, one which Sheffield could not profit from.

Then Eberle was himself punished for tripping - and Lane got his second of the night, on the power play.

Steelers take the lead against Notts.

The game had lacked the emotions of previous encounters, but man of the match defenceman Davey Phillips turned things around for them with only his second goal of the season.

Then came perhaps the most skillful moment of the match, Justin Hodgman maneuvering the puck for Evan Mosey to score for 4-2.

Vallerand's mini goal drought ended with a power play swipe with two minutes left, leaving just enough time for Jonathan Phillips to add a sixth.

Those three goals in four minutes put a gloss on the result, but at this stage of the season, there’s no doubt that Fox will certainly take that.

Attendance: 8,462