It was here. Us vs Them, Sheffield vs Nottingham, Steelers vs Panthers! Best of 3 play off finals for the #2021EliteSeries.
The first game of the #2021EliteSeries play off finals was a ‘home’ game for the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. Aaron Fox had the choice of home games given the Steelers were the top seeds after finishing top of the round-robin table.
Kirk was back in the line up for the big game tonight after coming through a back injury following an awkard hit earlier in the tournament.
Muse between the pipes again backed up once again by Ben Churchfield. A lot expected from Muse following a near 120 minutes over the last couple of games after also recovering from injury.
You starting 6 announced as:
The puckdrop was preceded by the National Anthem in the playoff finals and the boys were then ready to go with puckdrop at 7pm.
What followed was a tense affair throughout the first period with niether team wanting to give an inch and the Panthers playing a good ‘road’ game of blocking up the neutral zone in an attempt to put a halt on the Steelers habbit of getting early goals.
The early goal nearly came though at only 1.24 when the Eberle went hard down the right wing and just before wrapping the net laid the puck back to Kirk in front of the blue paint, but Kirk was tied up and couldn’t get his stick down to poke it home.
Both netminders came up well when called upon with both making a couple of good pad saves. Most shots coming from the blue line didn’t have too much traffic in front so were held easily. Something that may be looked at more in the 2nd.
A good chance at 10.40 when Dowd came across the Panthers zone and shot across his body, but again Whistle’s pad was in the way.
The first penalty of the game came in the 15th minute when the Steelers were called for too many men but the Steelers killed it off well.
The action came in the dying seconds of the period when Matheson was called for Slashing Kirk making his way in against Whistle. It took the Steelers only 7 seconds to take advantage through Dowd at the right wing Hash marks with a blast that went under Whistle’s right arm. Goal timed at 19.50, a powerplay goal, assisted by Connolly and Schulze.
The Steelers take a 1-0 lead into the 2nd period.
Much more action was to be had in the 2nd period as the Steelers started the period on the powerplay.
Unfortunately, after killing the penalty, the Panthers found themsevles on the scoreboard at 22.20 through Matheson as the puck fell at Muse’s back post and the veteran was there to jam it home. Goal assisted by Domingue and Perlini.
The Panthers had their 10 minutes and they went ahead in the 27th minute when Talbot-Tassi found a way through Muse, assisted by Matheson and Griffiths at 27.26.
The Steelers needed someone to come up big and get them back into the period, and who better than Captain Jono, Captain 900+! Jono was the man on the spot at the right hask marks who first past the stick hand of Whistle. Goal timed at 31.23 unassisted.
The level score was to be short-lived as a great effort from Tetlow on down the left of the Steelers zone saw him take his chance high on Muse. Goal timed at 32.27, assisted by Hook.
The Steelers weren’t going to let that get to them and put on the pressure to get themselves back level.
The effort paid dividends through Josef Mikyska who picked the puck up behind Muse’s zone and took off solo 200 foot who suddenly appeared by the goal line of the Nottingham net. Mikyska put in a extremely tight angled shot on Whistle which somehow found its way in to level the scored back up at 3-3. An amazing solo effort from Mikyska timed at 36.53 unassisted.
The Steelers and Panthers go into the 3rd level at 3-3.
Kirk was called early in the 2nd period for roughing. The danger came from Nottingham’s right wing through Perline who had several chances on Muse who kept them out well.
However, at 42.55 Nottingham once again took the lead through Betteridge after the puck came off the post back into Muse’s skates and bounced back out. The loose puck was picked up by the Panthers man and slotted home. The Steelers coach put in a review believing that a whistle had gone before the goal was scored but it ultimately stood.
Nottingham continued to have most of the pressure during the 3rd with the Steelers picking continuing to soak up the pressure.
Nothing much to write home about for the follow 10 minutes with the Panthers controlling the game and Whistle doing his job well when called upon.
Must was puleed in favour of the extra attacked in the last 2 minutes and the Panthers took advantage through Talbot-Tassi who found the empty net from his own zone.
The Panthers taking the first game of the 3 game series 5-3.
Steelers take on the Panthers again on Sunday night in the 2nd game of the of the series.
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