Panthers 6 Steelers 3

The scene was already set. A Steelers loss would send them to the bottom of the Elite league while sending Panthers back to the summit.
Panthers included new signing Mario Larocque in the squad, Nick Toneys making way for him. Steelers were at full strength.

The fun & games started from the opening face-off as Bruce Richardson and Jason Hewitt dropped the gloves. Hewitt got the take down (probably to save himself from further punishment) while Bruce got the better shots in, including putting Hewitt down and dragging him back up again. Maybe that will teach Hewitt to keep his mouth shut after games in future, but I doubt it!
Panthers opened the scoring when a mistake by Ben Morgan allowed David Clarke to fire a bullet of a shot past Andrew Verner. Steelers equalised through Matt Hubbauer who find the tiniest of gaps at KSP’s near post. Panthers re-took the lead later in the period after a sustained spell of Steelers pressure was broken up, Sean McAslan skated along the wing and centered the puck for Ross Dalgleish to poke home. Verner complained but there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Robert Dowd earned a 10 minute misconduct for firing the puck after the whistle, which lead to a coming together between all the players on the ice, the only penalty being a 2 minute roughing penalty for Bruce Richardson. From the resulting powerplay Steelers equalised, Brad Cruikshank scoring. The period ended 2-2, Steelers would be the happier team as Panthers dominated for long spells and out shot the visitors 20-10 in the period. Nothing could have prepared us for what was to come in the second!

The middle period was quite scrappy for the first five minutes, but Panthers regained the lead when a fabulous pass sent Danny Meyers clear and he made no mistake to chalk up his first goal of the season. Soon after it was 4-2, great passing across the zone saw Jade Galbraith produce an unstoppable one time shot that I doubt Verner even saw! Worse was to follow for the hapless Steelers, while on a powerplay the puck found its way to Richardson, who skated in unopposed on Verner and slotted the puck into the net for a short handed fifth. The Steelers were now totally outmatched, outfought and outplayed, but what was worse is the showed no fire to get back in it. Too many of their player went missing, including so-called hard man Brad Cruikshank, who was nowhere to be seen. As I said in last night’s commentary, I don’t think I have ever seen such a weak, powder-puff Steelers team!

Panthers coasted the third after Clarke notched his second and Panthers sixth early in the period. Steelers did score a consolation goal through Hubbauer, but the result was never in doubt, and Panthers skated to an easy 6-3 victory.
While Panthers were good they weren’t exceptional. I felt the result was more to do with how bad the Steelers are, and believe me they are bad, quite easily the worst Elite League team I’ve seen this year. It really is no coincidence that they find themselves at the bottom of the Elite league.
As for Panthers, well we return to the top, but to stay there wins against Newcastle tonight and Edinburgh on Tuesday are vital, and that will be a tough ask with injuries and a reported illness in the camp. There could be tough times ahead.

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