A first career hat trick for Jonas Westerling and a 23rd Steelers shut out for Ervins Mustukovs helped the Steelers bounce back from Wednesday’s cup semi final defeat to beat the Panthers 4-0 at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham.
Mustukovs became the first Steelers goalie ever to record back to back shut outs in Nottingham and now requires only 1 more to equal Jody Lehman’s record of 24.
Steelers went into the game without John Armstrong, Robert Dowd, Colton Fretter, Miika Fransilla and Andreas Jamtin.
Both sides exchanged early power-play opportunities without success. The Steelers then had a 5 minute advantage after Stevie Lee was awarded a 5 minty penalty and game misconduct for Boarding at 15.25.
Zack Fitzgerald would play no further part in the game.
Steelers didn’t capitalise on the one man advantage in the remainder of the first period but struck 16 seconds into the middle period when Jonas Westerling converted his first of the night, assisted Mark Matheson.
Both teams had runs on the power-play, Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips and Mathieu Roy (double minor) served penalties giving the Panthers a chance to equalise. Then Nottingham headed to the box for a string of infringements with the Steelers failing to extend their lead.
As the second period ended Eric Neiley and Jeff Brown squared off in a great fight with both players receiving 5 minute majors.
Into the final period and the next goal was always going to be so important.
Tim Billingsley’s penalty at the end of the second period gave the Steelers an early opportunity on the power-play and again Westerling made it count at 21.26
Matt Marquardt and an incredible effort from Mathieu Roy helped set up Westerling for the HT at 25.20 for a 3-0 advantage.
Panthers pushed in the final stages but Mustukovs was as a solid as a rock.
With Garnett pulled for the extra Panthers attacker Andreas Valdix hit the empty net for a final score of Nottingham Panthers 0-4 Steelers.