Sheffield Steelers take overtime victory over Guildford Flames after gruelling schedule
Steelers ended a gruelling period of eight games in 15 days with a nail-biting 1-0 overtime win at Guildford Flames.
Twenty four hours after a remarkable 7-1 win over Belfast Giants at Sheffield Arena, they toiled in a defensively-neutralised match, yet still came out on top.
Appropriately it was a defenceman who won the game.
Daine Todd's late strike meant the road warriors have now won six out of seven away matches.
On Sunday night, with Brendan Connolly and Martin Latal back from injury, Steelers were without forwardsJohn Armstrong and Matias Sointu.
They had won 6-3 in an October visit to the Spectrum but they were on the back foot after just 86 seconds when Keaton Ellerby took a minor for high-sticking.
They had to repeat the penalty kill when Sam Jones sat out for hooking, at 16:22.
But Aaron Fox's men had shown against a dangerous Belfast team that they can organise a team-defence well, with forwards back to help out in their own zone.
Rok Stojanovic has kept Steelers' goal for most road games and he must have been happy with at the first break.
But the pressure was on the away side at the start of the middle session and some last-ditch defending was required.
Tempers overheated at 26:29 with Connolly called for roughing and Flames' Jake Bolton binned for holding.
Jesper Alasaari was next in the home box, but his side threatened short-handed with Stojanovic forced into making two stops. The Ellerby took his second sit-out of the evening.
Plenty of penalties - but no goal action.
Flames had outshot Sheffield 27-23 as the teams prepared for the final session on slushy ice.
The grizzly contest featured Sam Jones and Owen Griffiths taking a hearty dislike to each other behind the net, in the 44th minute.
Sheffield need more injuries like they need a hole in the head.
But Marco Vallerand, who has scored 10 points in the last six games, disappeared to the changing room for treatment.
Guildford's penalty kill was tested again before the 60 minutes was up.
Steelers started overtime on a 4-on3 power play, but failed to execute.
It was left to defenceman Todd to win the game at 64:46, with a craftily-taken wrap-around.
On Saturday, Steelers had surprised even themselves with a resounding scoreline against title contenders Belfast Giants.
With three forwards out and others playing through issues, they took a 5-1 first period lead which bore testament to their ability to score in bunches and cash in when their opponents lose their focus.
Team defence was outstanding, with Giants never able to come back from what for them was a horrible eight minute spell of the first period.
Sheffield ended the night with seven different scorers, including two defencemen (Mosey, DeLuca, Vallerand Eberle, Sointu - and Schulze and Phillips.)
But the match will be remembered mainly for goalie Barry Brust's hefty hit on a Belfast forward. ))
Coach Aaron Fox said his players had simplified their game, all skaters had bought into a hard-grafting team plan in which Giants were given mere scraps in the final third.
Steelers return to Challenge Cup action with a trip to Nottingham Panthers, on Saturday.