Sheffield Steelers went into battle tonight with little chance of beating one of Europe’s top franchises.
They were without injured trio Robert Dowd, Mark Matheson and Matt Rupert against Swedish giants, Timra IK.
Chris Lawrence couldn’t make his season-debut, either.
He arrived from Canada today but his kit failed to appear on the same flight.
He watched his new team fight hard from the first puck-drop and emerge with a lot of credit.
But the cutting edge deserted them when they had chances - their last two games have seen shut-outs.
The Swedish Hockey League side had always been favourites to win the pre-season challenge match at iceSheffield.
For coach Paul Thompson, it was the penultimate match of the pre-season, where he and assistant coach Matheson had been hoping to assess the efficiency of systems and the suitability of players to them.
Timra’s squad included Filip Hållander, recently by Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL but back with his home club on loan.
The under-manned Steelers needed to keep it simple and safe against the illustrious visitors - who in the first period were not as direct in their play as their countrymen of Leksands had been the previous weekend.
In fact, Kieran Brown, elevated to the second Steeler line, had a superb chance to open the scoring after 70 seconds.
But more significantly, captain Jonathan Phillips was hurt in an incident on the right wing and hobbled back to the dressing room. At best, it’s only a dead-leg.
The match was nearly eight minutes old before Timra engineered a decent shot on Jackson Whistle.
Then, D-man Marcus Hardegård thought he’d put the visitors ahead with a blue line blast but the goal was washed out.
Timra netminder Victor Brattström had to act sharply to deny a Jordan Owens rebound.
Whistle was beaten high to his left from a Power Play blast from Rickard Palmberg in the first minute of the middle session.
But Sheffield poured forward and could have levelled, but Evan McGrath blasted a good chance high and wide.
Steelers couldn’t execute their power play and paid for it - Timra doubling their advantage when they had the extra man, Vilmos Galló converting.
Cole Shudra underlined the need for accuracy when he flashed a half-chance wide of Brattström.
The Swedes piled on the pressure and Whistle looked winded after stopping a Henrik Törnqvist shot.
But Sheffield showed a lot of guts, twice having to defend 5-on-3 PPs.
It was only in the area of finishing that you could criticise them.
When Hampus Larsson took a penalty for the visitors at 40;52, Paul Thompson’s men couldn’t find a way past the goalie.