Ten games remain for Steelers to do the impossible and stop the Cardiff Devils’ title juggernaut.
Two weekend wins over Manchester Storm put points in the bank, but failed to bring Steelers closer to the league leaders, who pulled off back-to-back wins over Belfast Giants which deflated both second and third placed teams.
Steeler wins over Storm are nothing unusual, there had been four of them before the weekend’s exchanges.
But it will be Steelers results against the Welsh and the Irish that will likely end the lofty ambition of a third-straight Elite League trophy.
“We just have to keep winning games and see where that gets us” says coach Paul Thompson, and you cannot fault his logic and his optimism. But deep down, the dream seems over. Cardiff have been the best team.
Last night, Storm twice came back from being behind to take Steelers into overtime.
Steelers seemed to seize the sell-out match by the scruff of the neck, with two goals in six minutes.
Levi Nelson’s unassisted strike, his third in four games, put them ahead. Mathieu Roy scored a Power Play second and the damage would have been greater had Nelson managed to bury a penalty shot.
Storm halved the deficit when Anders Franzon took his second interference penalty and Czech winger Patrik Valcak netted from Mark Heatley at 18:39.
Davey Phillips then took a couple of penalties and Storm’s Jack Prince scored on the second. But special teams on both sides were having success and Nelson nudged Sheffield into a 3-2 lead at 34:31.
Manchester hit the post and, after hooking their goalie, equalised for a second time, through Valcak to ensure overtime. Jace Coyle won the match which the home side claimed hadn’t gone over the line.
n On Saturday, Steelers were 101 seconds away from their third straight 3-0 win when a Manchester power play gave them a Darius Dziurzynski consolation. It had been, nevertheless, a comfortable win with Rob Dowd, Mathieu Roy and Guillaume Desbiens scoring.
* Steelers host Edinburgh on Wednesday: “They are another team that if you give them an inch, they take a mile” warned the coach.
Sunday 19th February
Coventry Blaze 5 Nottingham Panthers 1
Dundee Stars 4 Fife Flyers 2
Manchester Storm 3 Sheffield Steelers 4 (OT)
Tuesday 21st February
Coventry Blaze v Edinburgh Capitals – 7.30pm
Nottingham Panthers v Cardiff Devils – 7.30pm
Wednesday 22nd February
Sheffield Steelers v Edinburgh Capitals – 7.30pm @ Ice Sheffield
Saturday 25th February
Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers – 7.00pm
Braehead Clan v Dundee Stars – 7.00pm
Cardiff Devils v Coventry Blaze – 7.00pm
Manchester Storm v Edinburgh Capitals – 7.00pm
Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers – 7.00pm
Sunday 26th February
Coventry Blaze v Manchester Storm – 5.15pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Cardiff Devils – 6.00pm
Fife Flyers v Sheffield Steelers – 6.30pm
Nottingham Panthers v Belfast Giants – 4.00pm