With what sounded like gallows humour, Ryan Finnerty walked into Sheffield Arena with his Braehead team and asked: “Can we borrow your fourth line?”
In the teeth of the worst injury crisis in the club’s short history, he could ice just 12 skaters, one of them, Ed McGrane suffering concussion.
Yet, like so often in this sport, the short-handed team puffed out its chest and ground out a victory.
They competed over every inch of the ice - in the style their coach did when he was playing in Sheffield.
In fact, Finnerty’s quip about a fourth line was to haunt him after four minutes, when winger Aaron Nell hit the goalie’s chest, Jason Hewitt potting the rebound.
Against 12 skaters, Steelers had started with drive and energy, but any Finnerty team has spirit - and they shook Sheffield by grabbing a 2-1 lead at the first break.
Joël Champagne had shown some sublime skills around the Steelers’ crease and he could have equalised before Matt Towe got the leveller at 16;41.
Towe, the Sheffield-born former Steeler, skated unimpeded across the home zone before beating Doyle.
And 41 seconds later French Canadian centreman Champagne followed suit to add another. Goalie Frank Doyle had grabbed the puck from over the line following his shot, but the goal judge had called it right, which was more than the defence did - both goals were sloppy ones to concede.
Given their numerical advantage, most of us where thinking Steelers would right the ship in the middle period.
But despite their domination, they failed to find the net and conceded again, Shane Lust leaving Danny Meyers in his wake to make it 1-3 at 33;57.
Chad Langlais’ mistake in the offensive zone triggered another rush on Sheffield’s goal, but they escaped more damage.
Hewitt was enraged at the lack of progress, shouting to his team mates on the bench: “What is going on? We’re playing a two line flipping (edited) hockey team.”
Braehead defended with simplicity and courage, nobody putting more into the game than Doncaster-born Matt Haywood.
While Rob Dowd pulled one back with a cracking drive from the right flank, Clan held out until Steelers were forced to pull their goalie - Neil Trimm scoring an empty netter with seconds remaining. The score may have flattered them in terms of play percentage - but not in terms of guts. It was their second win at the Arena.
On Saturday netminder Doyle recorded a season-first, 21-save shut out of Fife. It was a victory borne of a fluid first 13 minutes, which saw Steven Goertzen and Jeff Legue put the visitors in charge.
Flyers could not outfox Steelers well-organised penalty killers in the second period, and paid the price.
Steelers, who lost back-from-suspension Gord Baldwin for 12 minutes during that session for abusing an official, added a third at 49.47 from Dowd.
Manchester Phoenix player Liam Chong has alleged he was racially abused by Sheffield Steeldogs players on Saturday. He tweeted: “Good to get the points tonight. (W: 5-3) Shame about the racist remarks I was getting every shift. #classless.”