Sheffield Steelers top stars cannot go missing again

Joe Fallon - confounded Steelers
Joe Fallon - confounded Steelers
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Sheffield Steelers’ top players have to excel every night - or the team is going to lose.

That’s the harsh reality facing Sheffield Steelers after they were shut out for the first time in the 2016-17 season.

Steelers dipped 4-0 at Dundee Stars, despite 41 shots on goaltender Joe Fallon.

The Scots managed a modest 25 on Ervins Mustukovs, but managed to get four past him.

And while Sheffield were undermanned through suspensions and injuries, they have lost their last two regulation time final periods 0-3...and have won only one final period in five games.

Coach Paul Thompson did not rely on excuses of absent players after the loss in Scotland saying pointedly: “We had more than enough chances to win the game and our best players didn’t have a good night in front of goal, we could have played until 2am and we wouldn’t have scored.”

John Armstrong had scored a goal and a penalty shot the night before to take his tally up to eight goals in four games.

And Mathieu Roy had found the net four times in his last three appearances.

But Marc Lefebvre’s game plan was successful in nullifying them.

He said his players had committed to team defence against a side, normally, with plenty of firepower.

Coach Lefebvre said his skaters had given the outstanding Fallon plenty of support. But Thompson insists his men should have done more: “We lacked urgency in the offensive zone, we had no jump. We slowed things down rather than speed things up. That played into their hands and they contained us well.

“I don’t blame the D at all, we played with just the four of them for 125 minutes this weekend and they gave me everything.”

The set-back meant Steelers now have to share second spot in the League, with Fife Flyers.

Sheffield are nine points behind the leaders, Cardiff Devils, but have five games in hand over them.

They are next in action on Saturday, when they entertain Nottingham Panthers, whom they split results with earlier this season in the Challenge Cup.

Panthers were undone 4-2 at home by Belfast Giants on Sunday, which followed a 4-3 defeat on Bonfire night at Manchester Storm.

n Mike Ratchuck, who was missing from the team last weekend, had become “violently ill” on the bus journey north, the club said.

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