Time runs out again for Sheffield Steelers

Sheffield Steelers remain top of the table - but need to regroup after losing two consecutive games for the first time in this EIHL mini season.

By Bob Westerdale
Sunday, 18th April 2021, 6:31 pm

Aaron Fox's men struggled to get their big offensive guns firing.

And that was down in no small measure to Manchester's super-efficient, smothering forecheck.

Penalty trouble involving Brendan Connolly and Josef Mikyska didn't help the Sheffield cause, either.

The game turned in Storm's favour when they received their marching orders.

The South Yorkshire team had kept 19-year-old third choice goaltender Curtis Warburton between the pipes and he put in an excellent 60 minutes.

He was in action as early as 35 seconds as Storm tried to put the youngster under pressure.

But the calm netminder pulled off a quite remarkable glove save from Ben Lake's forehand for three feet out at 1:48.

Robert Dowd tries to find a chink in Manchester's armour

His resistance established a platform for Sheffield attacks, but when Jonathan Phillip's line turned the puck over in their own zone, Maxime Fortier took the chance to rifle the puck high and across the goalie for 0-1, at 9:22.

Warburton had deserved better than that.

Steelers tried to regroup with Solder Olden having two chances and Tanner Eberle testing Storm goaltender Sean Bonar with a wrap-around.

But Bonar showed his class.

Aaron Fox's men had seen plenty of the puck but hadn't really started this game in the style they'd hoped for.

So a Steeler goal in the second period was sorely needed. Manchester contested every attempt to make that happen, putting sticks and bodies in the way as Sheffield sent waves of attacks.

Steeler fans watching on the stream had to wait for the equaliser until 31:54 when Storm were serving a second penalty kill on the bounce.

With Ben Davies called for holding the stick, Mikyska skated into the right circle, his speculative short-side shot somehow getting over Bonar's left arm.

Bonar recovered his composure to halt Liam Kirk who had been put neatly through on goal by Olden.It was a clear chance - and one of many - but it remained 1-1 at the second break.

Storm managed to limit chances on a penalty kill starting on 44 minutes and were fortunate Josh Waller didn't connect with a Phillips pass to the back post.

But they hustled for every puck and it was impossible in the final stages to guess who would prevail.

And when Connolly took a tripping minor, Storm went ahead again, Andreas Klavestad's effort going in off both posts, at 53:29.

Mikyska's 2+2 tripping and misconduct penalty left Steelers under-staffed at a critical time and Storm's Ciaran Long rattled in a second power play goal for 3-1 at 57;04.

A Storm turnover gave hope with Kevin Schulze dragging one back, short-handed at 59:03.

But for a second game running, Steelers couldn't find a late leveller.