Sheffield Steelers: Honours even after weekend test against rivals Nottingham Panthers
There was a lot of love in the room for a special Steelers' player, one who will never grace the line-up again.
Sheffield had returned to their Arena home, some 536 days after the pandemic shut down sport, with a highly emotional farewell to the late Marek Troncinský, who passed away in May.
The tribute formed part of a video farewell for, equally as touchingly, the fans who are also no longer with us.
If anybody doubts that Steelers is a special club and the Arena a special place, then they should have witnessed what 8,000-plus people saw on Sunday afternoon.
The pre-game demonstration of love for the club, in all its forms, must have been an eye-opening experience for the six players who had never represented the home team at the House of Steel.
At the ceremony's end, it was time for them and their new band of brothers to provide an indication of what sort of EIHL season we can look forward to.
The game did not go the way the majority wanted. Sheffield lost 5-3, but they had been hampered by absenteeism and will get better.
Steelers, without goalie Barry Brust, Kevin Schulze, (visa delays) Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen, (suspended) Justin Hodgman and Daine Todd (injured) had beaten the same opponents Nottingham Panthers 3-2 away on Saturday, the first of the pre-season outings.
Panthers, though, had superior match-fitness - they had previous pre-season two matches against Cardiff Devils under their belt.
The white-shirts were ruthless in front of net in the opening minutes.
Sam Jones had his pocket picked before Massimo Carozza shot past Rok Stojanovic at 2;05. Three minutes later, Cole Shudra couldn't get in the way of a Christophe Boivin effort.
Sheffield looked like a team that had had only had a week together.
It was painful to watch - and painful for Keaton Ellerby on the ice, he seemed to jar his back when Simon Suoranta boarded him into the end wall.
To rub it in, Panthers took a 3-0 lead at 13.15. Matthew Myers, who played for Sheffield in the mini series, banged in a glorious one-timer on the powerplay.
Sheffield had a goal disallowed too - Cole Shudra's point shot counting for nothing.
But Shudra assisted on Sheffield's first goal, a Robert Dowd tip at 19.40.
Nottingham continued to look for opportunities and take the body in an even middle period.
Tim Wallace's side went 4-1 up at 29:30 Boivin's shot rebounding to Robbie Baillargeon.
If they were looking to quieten the 8,000-plus side, they were doing it. And Wallace had the confidence to replace goalie Kevin Carr with second-strong Will Kerlin.
The former Steelers' back-up was beaten at 33:14, though. Man mountain Taylor Doherty flattened Anthony DeLuca and the resulting penalty saw Evan Mosey score on his first home appearance for Sheffield (2-4.)
Marco Vallerand had a gift of a chance as he sprung free, but Kerlin denied him.
Sheffield's roster, which has the oldest, average) squad in the EIHL, needed to find some offensive expertise in the final session.
With two minutes left, a lethal shot from the left flank by David Phillips made it a one-goal game.
It was game-on until an empty netter from new signing Baillargeon guaranteed Nottingham the win.