Sheffield Steelers: Injury-stricken Steelers seal inspiring win over Nottingham Panthers
Injury-ravaged Sheffield Steelers pulled off an inspiring win at Nottingham Panthers to solidify their position at the top of the EIHL table.
The club had five players struck off the roster but sealed their second win of the season at Nottingham, by 3-1.
They netted short-handed, with a late empty-netter, to wrap up two points from their weekend games.
Next week, though, will be about patching up the wounded – Steelers cannot continue to run on almost empty.
Sheffield and Nottingham teams' preparation for this match could hardly have been more different.
Steelers had been put to the sword in a chastening, stormy 3-7 home defeat on Saturday, at the hands of Cardiff Devils.
And their injury jinx had struck again - Marco Vallerand and Robert Dowd were both out of Sunday's game.
Panthers, meanwhile, had enjoyed a Saturday evening with their feet up, having shut out Glasgow Clan on Friday.
So Sheffield had it all to do at the NIC, yet they started brightly with Brendan Connolly, Ben O'Connor and Tanner Eberle all coming close to scoring.
It was defenceman Aaron Brocklehurst that was first to get on the scoreboard, though.
He had been in the penalty box for interference, but 20 seconds after leaving captivity he scored unassisted (21:51) his third point in five games.
A rash of penalties ensued, one of them a 2+10 on Eberle for checking Dylan Malmquist from behind, at 27:59.
Tomas Duba had conceded a hat-full in Steelers' goal the night before but he kept Brett Perlini and others at bay until Nottingham finally got on level terms through a neatly-deflected puck.
The scorer at 35:33 was 23-year-old Malmquist - his first professional goal - assisted by Jason Desantis and Jacob Hansen.
It was a disappointment for coach Aaron Fox, but understrength Sheffield continued to make openings; one O'Connor effort giving Kevin Carr plenty to do in the home cage.
Panthers were living dangerously, with Adam Deutsch called for holding, followed by Daniel Fick for cross-checking (Eberel getting a call too for embellishment) and then the home side narrowly avoided conceding when Lucas Sandstrom's breakaway went wide.
Steelers took the lead for a second time, with Connolly in the box for retaliating.
The short-handed goal came from John Armstrong, firing high into the net and profiting from the graft of Eberle, at 47:51.
Nottingham pulled Carr pulled out of his net with 100 seconds remaining - high drama at the NIC.
But it blew up in coach Tim Wallace's face, Jonathan Phillips scoring an empty-netter at 59:09.
A fine end to Sheffield's weekend - but with plenty left to do in the Arena treatment room.