Steelers prevail in game of short rosters

Saturday, 8th November 2008

Sheffield Steelers 7 - 3 Manchester Phoenix

The game between two sides missing a total of six players to the GB National Team ended in favour of the home side as they took their chances clinically before tempers boiled over in the final two minutes.

Phoenix got off to the perfect start opening the scoring in the first minute Nathan Ward finishing from close range. But the celebrations were cut short as Bruce Mulherin crashed heavily into the boards and took no further part in the game. Before the Phoenix could settle down to further necessary line adjustments, the Steelers drew level, Brad Cruikshank opening his account from the right wing with a rising shot that beat Stephen Wall to the glove side in the third minute. In an even first period, the Steelers stole a late lead less than a minute before the break, Joey Talbot the scorer.

Phoenix used the break to re-define their gameplan and they dominated the second session possession and scoring chances. The equaliser eventually came just past the half-hour mark as some tic-tac-toe passing around the Steelers goal on a powerplay ended with David-Alexandre Beauregard lifting a delicious backhand shot into the roof of the net. Three minutes later and the Phoenix were back in front as, again on the powerplay, captain Kenton Smith was on hand to finish from close range after excellent work from Brett Clouthier and Ward. However, the Steelers drew level right on the 38-minute mark, Sheppard forcing the puck past Wall as Phoenix failed to clear their zone.

The home side needed just thirty seconds to regain the lead in the third period as Wall failed to hold onto a blast from former Phoenix captain Scott Basiuk and Ryan Finnerty slotted home. Worse was to come two minutes later as Cruikshank swept home his second of the game. The Phoenix were now facing an uphill battle as the Steelers grew in confidence and it was the home side who created more scoring opportunities. Legue added a sixth marker inside the final two minutes before Andrew Sharp clashed with Brett Clouthier and Criukshank became embroiled with Lucas Burnett. All four players received Game Misconduct penalties for Fighting with Cruikskank an additional Game Misconduct for being third man in to the altercation. Steelers added a seventh goal in the final minute as Finnerty carved through the defence to end a disappointing evening for the Phoenix and their travelling support.

A Phoenix spokesperson remarked, “It was always going to be a difficult game even with Sheffield being four men down, the loss of Tony Hand and Stephen Murphy proving more detrimental to our club than the four skaters out for the Steelers. We got a great start and battled back to deserve the tie at the second break, but the two quick goals in the third period gave them the impetus to go on and secure the victory. Stephen Wall did not let us down, but the loss of Stephen Murphy clearly indicates the importance of the goalie position. We’ll take medical advise on Bruce on Sunday morning, but right now it’s not looking like he’ll play any part on Sunday in the return game.”

Phoenix face-off against the Steelers at the Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday with a 5.30pm face-off.

Bruce Mulerin

Injured: Bruce Mulherin

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