The Sheffield Steelers completed another successful four point weekend as they beat the Braehead Clan on Saturday and the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday.
Steven Goertzen was the hat-trick hero on Saturday as he led the Steelers to a 5-4 away victory. Captain Jonathan Phillips opened the scoring four minutes into the game, but they were quickly pegged back by a Jordon Krestanovich power play goal.
In the 13th minute of the first period the Steelers again took the lead with a power play goal from Steven Goertzen.
The second period ebbed and flowed with Goertzen scoring early before the Clan hit back in fine fashion to level before a late Goertzen goal made it 4-3/
With ten minutes left in the 3rd period Steelers defenseman Rod Sarich scored on the power play and the game looked to be dying down until Clan’s Ash Goldie scored with four minutes to go, and making it a tense last few minutes of the game.
The Nottingham Panthers were next up on Sunday as the Steelers looked to close the gap on their rivals, knowing a win for the Steelers would close the gap to five points, and with two more games against the Panthers this was a must win game.
After a scrappy start to the game, Steelers talisman Jeff Legue scored two goals by the 15th minute to put the Steelers in the driving seat, but what followed was an amazing 76 seconds that saw the panthers score through Brandon Benedict at 16.24, Steelers Ashley Tait scored just six seconds later to make it 3-1 and then Panthers David Clarke scored a controversial goal 17 seconds later that looked to not have crossed the goal line, the goal judge not giving it but referee Mike Hicks allowed the goal to stand.
A goalless second period was to follow and set up a nail biting third session.
A tense third period wasn’t settled until late from time when Scott Champagne danced through the Panthers defence, and found the space to go one on one with Panthers goaltender Craig Kowalski, Champagne pulled off the move and slotted the puck past Kowalski to seal the win.
A last ditch attempt saw the Panthers pull goaltender Kowalski for an extra attacker, but the man advantage wasn’t enough to break the Steelers and Steven Goertzen scored an empty net goal for his 4th of the weekend.
Speaking in the post-game press conference, a jubilant coach Finnerty had this to say: “We came out and contained when we had to and then create some good offensive chances ourselves. I thought we out chanced Nottingham in quality chances tonight. We hit the post three times.
“Legge (Jeff Legue) gave us the perfect start and then we had that crazy spell when they scored, we scored they scored. I was happy to get in 3-2 ahead then.
“The way we played the next 40 minutes impressed me. Yes Nottingham had some good possession but we limited their chances, their quality chances. Our forwards provided a lot of back pressure, our centre men sank low when they had to in support and when pucks did get through Johnny was again outstanding.
“When we went forward i thought we created. It didn’t surprise me that we scored the all-important 4th goal. Scott did a great job finding the hole and making that play
“Hey this was always a must win game, a four pointer. We won it, we close the gap to 5 and we play them twice more. We put a little pressure on them now. Still a lot of hockey to be played.”
The Steelers are in action against Cardiff on Valentines day in their next Elite League Game.