Steelers 2 Panthers 4

Half-time in the Challenge Cup Semi-Final, and Panthers secured a valuable away win against the hapless Sheffield Steelers. However it could have been so much better if Steelers hadn’t scored two late goals! No matter though, I would think all Panthers fans would have quite happily taken a 4-2 win in this game.
The first period started with the Steelers on top for the first few minutes, so much so that I was actually worried that they’d bury us, however a powerplay gave Panthers the opportunity they needed and Jay Henderson scored close in on the backhand on his debut. Just over a minute later and the lead was doubled, Jade Galbraith given loads of time and space by the Steelers defence in the attacking zone to set up Cameron Mann for an easy finish. The Panthers were now on top, but were by no means streets ahead, the Steelers were just that bad! With the period winding down Panthers made it 3-0, Marty Gascon was given the freedom of the right wing, not one Steelers player went near him as he skated on net and roofed his shot past a by now livid Andrew Verner, who was hung out to dry by his defence yet again. So 3-0 Panthers at the period break, beyond anything we expected.
The second was one of the dullest periods of hockey I’ve ever seen, but it didn’t have to be exciting. Panthers contained the play, and Steelers continued to look like they’d never met!
Into the third and Panthers extended the lead further. Galbraith once again given an age of time behind the net without a Steelers D man in sight, he put the pass on David Clarke’s stick in front and it was 4-0. Panthers continued to contain the Steelers, who were by now their own worst enemy, I think they cleared our zone through poor passing more than we did by ourselves. Panthers were continuing to get chances on the break, but couldn’t extend the lead. With 57 minutes gone KSP was denied probably the easiest shut-out of his career when Joey Talbot got the Steelers on the score sheet. Worse was to follow, Dominic D’Amour brought someone down (I didn’t see their number) as they went in on goal. Amazingly referee Dean Smith gave a penalty shot! Tripping yes, no doubt, but a penalty shot? Terrible decision from where I was sitting, but I’ll watch it again on Sky on Friday. Jonathan Zion dispatched the penalty and the deficit was down to two and the game finished 4-2 to the Panthers, a nice lead to take into the home leg next Wednesday.
Now, I should be euphoric at tonight’s result and I’m really pleased we beat them yet again, but contemplating tonight’s experience on the drive home left me feeling as bit sad. To explain, I have been watching Panthers and Steelers clashes for seventeen years, I have been part of 10,000+ crowds for a league game in Sheffield, I have seen Steelers teams look like they’d rather die than be beaten by the Panthers, I have come away hating the place and never wanting to go again, only to be tempted back by the next game. To see such a poor crowd tonight (which the weather had some effect, I accept that) for a Steelers v Panthers clash was quite shocking, there couldn’t have been much more than 3,000 in attendance if that. As the game went on there was virtually zero atmosphere, you could clearly hear the players talking, the officials shouting and the crack of the puck as it landed on the sticks. It just didn’t seem right. For the first time ever tonight I felt that hockey in Sheffield is in its death throws, in less then 12 months the team has become a pathetic, empty shell of what it used to be. I actually began to genuinely pity them as their quite dreadful team skated around looking like they couldn’t give a toss, and they actually let us steamroll them, when we weren’t that great ourselves tonight. The Steelers have a great many problems, it doesn’t look good for them. Sorry to end on a bit of a downer.


1 Response to “Steelers 2 Panthers 4”

  1. 1 Mattski from Five Minute Major February 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Myself and Becky were discussing this a few months ago – looking at their attendances, results and reports from their own fans, the Steelers are in a dire state. As much as your and many other teams’ fans may laugh at it, it’s not a good thing for one of British hockey’s most iconic organisations to be on its deathbed. I doubt they’re the only ones in trouble either. The knock-on effect would be massive – whether this is a sign of the times or the first of many, I don’t know, but they’re proof that things need changing across nearly all levels. A bit of common sense, long-term vision and selflessness from many people wouldn’t go amiss.

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