Sheffield Steelers can hold their heads high despite effectively tumbling out of the Champions Hockey League last night.
They took the lead against crack side JYP Jyväskylä but eventually had to yield the game as the Scandinavians came on strong in the latter stages.
The result in some sense renders next weekend’s game against Frolunda Gothenburg pretty meaningless - but coach Paul Thompson will certainly not see it that way.
He will use it - and Wednesday’s friendly at Manchester Storm - to further gel this talented, hard-working squad.
Sheffield were a credit to British hockey in the opening period. They defended well when they had to and their special teams could have had three goals.
As it was, Rob Dowd was the first Steeler Brit to score in the Champions Hockey League, he finished top shelf on a power play (15;52) earned when Mike Duco drew a penalty in a one-sided battle with 6ft 6ins Finn Nolan Yonkman.
Dowd had showed he could spectacularly finish against, well, the Finnish.
Later, short-handed Steelers could have netted again when Phil Hill fed Jason Hewitt outside the crease.
Seconds later Colton Fretter hit the pipework, the puck dropping down on to the line.
The period was a triumph in planning: Steelers’ shifts were short and combative and they matched the visitors for work ethic and tactical nous.
Goalie Tyler Plante made saves when he had to - stopping Valtteri Hotakainen’s shot through Cullen Eddy’s legs and a great glove parry from Janne Tavi.
The Finns showed their class to score twice in four minutes. A slick transition saw Joonas Nattinen equalise. Then after Sheffield killed a penalty JYP stayed on the attack and Hotakainen gave them a go-ahead goal.
JYP had hit the post through Jani Tupparainen too, but really didn’t deserved to be ahead. And their lead was whipped away from them on Steelers’s second PP goal of the night at 37:26. Colton Fretter’s drive bounced back off the back board, eventually being buried by Mathieu Roy.
JYP’s superior fitness and months of preparation told in the third period.
They were better able to keep the home side on the outside and found more time to pass around and penetrate the Sheffield defence.
Ben O’Connor’s penalty allowed the Finns even more time - and Joose Antonen used it to get their third. The puck got lost under Rod Sarich’s feet and he was the quickest to find it and knock it past Plante at 47;38.
An empty net goal from Janne Tavi made it four for JYP on the night.
The 2-4 scoreline was no accurate rerpresentation of most of the game. And Steelers fans went home confident that their side will be on course to defence their Elite League title.
And Thompson may have lost his first Arena home game in charge of the bench but he has learned a lot about his team - most of it good.