Final score: Nottingham Panthers 5-2 Sheffield Steelers 

Chris Lawrence, season debut at Notts
Chris Lawrence, season debut at Notts

Sheffield Steelers’ new season got off to an ego-bruising start at Nottingham Panthers, tonight.

They went behind after 10 minutes and, seven minutes later, had Davey Phillips kicked out of the game.

Sheffield had kept in with a chance until the final period, but didn’t have enough.

In particular, they will regret not burying chances on the Power Play.

Steelers had kept pretty much the same formation as they'd started their pre-season camp with, other than Chris Lawrence centring the fourth line.

Before a customary high energy crowd, Jaynen Rissling had the crowd buzzing with a shot saved by Steelers' netminder Jackson Whistle.

Steelers in the Panthers' lair

Steelers in the Panthers' lair

The home fans were happy to see a Jacob Doty hit on Mark Matheson too.

Sheffield couldn't turn the tide and convert a power play and then conceded.

Steelers gave the puck away and Robert Farmer won a personal duel with Whistle at 10;54.

A chance to level presented itself 98 seconds later in the form of a penalty shot for Josh Pitt, who had been tripped en route to goal - but the Canadian fired over Michael Garnett's cage.

Justin Buzzeo then hit the post, but Sheffield lost Davey Phillips at 17;27, the defenceman earning a five minute penalty and game misconduct for checking to the head.

The visitors were under the cosh with Ryan Martinelli stopping a puck on the line just before the first break.

Twenty six seconds into the middle session in this Challenge Cup opener, Mark Hurtubise blasted a slapshot from the top of the face-off circle to edge Nottingham further ahead on the Power Play.

Paul Thompson's men had to find a way through.

Jordan Owens came close but just failed to dig the puck underneath Garnett.

Jon Rheault and Tommy Hughes took consecutive penalties for Nottingham - would this be the moment Sheffield's offence clicked?

Robert Dowd had a decent chance but only found Garnett's glove.

Scorer Hurtubise was the next in the Panthers' penalty box, but again Panthers' penalty killers did their job.

Eventually, Sheffield got on the board, Pitt putting a bobbling puck away with a second left on the period.

Tommy Hughes, though knocked the wind out of Sheffield’s sails with a wrist shot goal with the third period less than three minutes old.

Matheson almost reduced the arrears, but his shot hit the pipework.

With eight minutes remaining, the game was won by Nottingham, with Rissling back-handing past Whistle for 4-1.

Brett Perlini showed Sheffield how the Power Play can work with a fifth at 54;34.

D-man Aaron Johnson scored a consolation for Thompson’s troops at 57;40.

But it was too little, too late.