Sheffield Steelers season ends after losing two-goal lead at Dundee Stars.

Sheffield Steelers imploded in their latest and final 'must-win' encounter of the season as they crashed out of the playoffs at quarter-final stage.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 11:21 am
Goal celebration for Steelers at Dundee. Picture by Derek Black

Despite being 3-1 up in the later stages on Sunday night, they were hauled back by a canny Dundee side, who triumphed 4-3 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate.

The last chance of Steeler silverware for the 2021-22 season vanished, leaving the club and its supporters to rue how a season with such promise had ended empty-handed.

Injuries over the year, ofcourse, had been a factor.

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Nonetheless, not many fans could have predicted Sheffield would lose the last SIX matches of the domestic campaign.

A trophyless season will probably mean a clear-out of players in what will be an interesting summer in terms of comings and goings.

Sunday saw Coach Aaron Fox switch some of his attacking assets around the lines following Saturday's 0-1 home first leg at Sheffield.

Robert Dowd, again playing at centre in Vojtech Polak's absence, was paired with Vallerand as the coach tried to trigger more offensive chemistry.

Sheffield Steelers' Keeton Ellerby poised to clear the puck against Dundee Stars. Pic by Derek Black

The opening minutes had echoes of the night before where Steelers sought shots on net, but couldn't find a way past Adam Morrison.

Sheffield, though, were equal, on aggregate, at 9:59.

With Kyle Haas penalised for having a go at Sam Jones, Vallerand scored.

Dundee had a chance to bite back when Tommaso Traversa was called for hooking at 11:47 and Sebastian Bengtsson's powerful effort hinted at trouble down the line.

Marco Vallerand with his back to goal. Picture by Derek Black

Invigorated by the penalty kill, Steelers were suddenly ahead in the tie, Vallerand getting his second of the night at 14:22.

Sheffield then extended the lead to 3-0 with Martin Látal backhanding his 60th point of the season.

But the heady dreams of a trip to Nottingham were put on hold when John Armstrong and Davey Phillips were in the penalty box and Latvian defenceman Kalvis Ozols scored, five-on-three, for Dundee to make it 3-2 on aggregate.

Steelers responded with a series of attacks on Morrison's net, but with Stars having such a quick transition, it was important for Fox's men to keep the door shut.

They couldn't manage it and with seven and a half minutes to go, Bengtsson, made it 3-3, overall.

It was the beginning of the end.

At 58.29, Jones was binned for slashing and Stars took advantage of the extra man, super Swede Bengtsson effectively sending his team through to the finals. Dillion Lawrence rubbed it in with an empty-netter.

The weekend had been a tremendous advert for hockey, but Sheffield had folded yet again.

*On Saturday, Steelers were back on home ice for the first time since Belfast Giants were enjoying themselves on it, parading their new League title.

Barry Brust was in goal and he had a save ratio of 95.65%. Yet that wasn't enough to win the game as Stars scored through Bengtsson at 57:21 - punishing Steelers' lack of effectiveness at the other end.

Coach Aaron Fox was happy with the compete level but not with the way his team managed the game offensively.