On Jeff Legue’s ‘triumphant’ return home, Steelers went to the Dogs.
Despite the presence of newly re-employed Jeff Legue from Sheffield Steeldogs, the Elite League club failed to engineer the chances they needed to dent a ruthlessly-efficient Nottingham defence. The attack was muzzled.
Steelers were imprecise and toothless, while Nottingham had a game plan that they stuck to, the the letter.
Before the biggest Arena crowd of the season, Sheffield had been comprehensively shut out.
They had been pursuing their seventh straight win and started the day nine points clear of Nottingham, who were in the middle of the pack and in a three-game losing streak.
Yet the form book was tossed well and truly went out the window.
Despite the extra firepower in Legue’s presence, Steelers were curiously ineffective offensively, while Panthers monopolised the early shots, with Cody Wild orchestrating the best moves from deep.
Wild hit the side netting and Steve Lee forced a save, before the latter beat Frank Doyle with a low drive at 9;27.
Rob Dowd energised the crowd by downing Mike Berube in a fight a minute later - although Panthers were furious that Dowd had taken him down with a WWE-style leg-wrestling move.
But Sheffield could not summon up any precision before the first interval, Mathieu Roy coming close but being foiled by goalie Mattias Modig.
A similar scenario was replayed in the middle session, with Chris Higgins the only scorer, for Panthers.
It was a controversial effort. Wild had hit the post on the Power Pay but Mike Forney seemed to be on a breakaway when he was upended.
Panthers then scored and Forney was penalised for an earlier slashing.
Chances came and went for Steelers: the Forney/Fretter/Roy line the main threat but for a team normally so potent, Modig was never in panic mode.
And with Sheffield’s attacks becoming increasingly desperate, Panthers scored two last minute goals through Lawrence and Greg Jacina.
Panthers fans will be full of it tonight, when they host Sheffield at the NIC.
But Gerad Adams’ men cannot be this bad again - there is a reason why they are top of the league...even if they didn’t show it last night.
Coach Gerad Adams admitted his team had been slow, failed to execute, and once they had gone behind lacked confidence. Yet even at two down, he thought they would still win.
He said the result was a blip and form would return.