Continental Cup assessment: Sheffield Steelers injuries cloud bronze medal achievement

In the end, Sheffield Steelers could not replicate Nottingham Panthers' feat of winning the Continental Cup.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 14th January 2018, 2:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th January 2018, 2:50 pm
Steelers and their fans in Minsk. Pic by Dean Woolley
Steelers and their fans in Minsk. Pic by Dean Woolley

Twelve months ago, almost to the day, Panthers beat Ritten of Italy 4-1 to claim first place on the European podium.

Steelers shut out Ritten 2-0 on Sunday, but it was too little too late as the damage was done in Friday’s unexpected 5-1 defeat to Kazakh side Nomad Astana, where Robert Dowd and Miika Franssila picked up injuries, on top of existing problems to John Armstrong and Liam Kirk.

Armstrong and Dowd - who could be done for the year - have been top of the leader board for Steelers this season...when have two such stars been absent from big international games before?

It was a double-blow Steelers battled to overcome but ultimately could not.

Without that duo, Sheffield performed bravely and at times brilliantly on Saturday, against hosts Yunost in Minsk, Belarus, coming from behind three times before the final nail was hammered into Steelers’ coffin with two minutes left.

Their high-octane performance - and Sunday’s comfortable bronze medal win over Ritten with goals from Andreas Jamtin and Jonas Westerling, hints a good things ahead, domestically.

In fact, Tony Hand, ex Steeler and GB coach, made a rare Sheffield-associated post on twitter on Saturday: “Steelers played an excellent match irrespective of the result against a top class team. Tactics spot on. You couldn’t have asked any more.”

Steelers did not want to close the tournament on a third straight loss against a team their biggest domestic rivals had beaten to become the first British side to claim a major European trophy.

And they cleverly mastered the Italians with goals in the first two periods. Sadly Colton Fretter picked up an injury.

Coach Paul Thompson admitted he was disappointed not to have at least won silver - but his main job now is patching up his side for Guildford Flames on Saturday - they will be minus suspended Jamtin and Zack Fitzgerald.

Shut out for Ervins Mustukovs
Steelers and union flag
Shut out for Ervins Mustukovs
Steelers and union flag