NOTTINGHAM Panthers put a dent in the title hopes of their biggest rivals the Sheffield Steelers yesterday, at the National Ice Centre.
The league leaders went down 4-1 to the Panthers, just 24 hours after they lost 5-2 to title challengers Belfast Giants.
A disappointed Steelers player-coach Ben Simon said: “We are all disappointed. We had a good opportunity in front of us to seal the deal and put a real dent in the league championship but we did not execute our game plan.”
“Every team has had a dip during the season and unfortunately it seems to be our turn now.”
Steelers are joint top of the Elite League with Cardiff Devils on 79 points. Third placed Belfast are a point behind with a game in hand on both clubs, and travel to South Yorkshire on Wednesday to take on the Steelers at Ice Sheffield.
Simon added: “Belfast is a really big game now on Wednesday, it’s the league championship right there, and we are disappointed right now but have got to start preparing for that one.”
Yesterday Steelers found themselves behind after two minutes. Nottingham’s Jade Galbraith unleashed a shot from just inside the Steelers’ zone that should have easily been stopped by netminder Ervins Mustukovs. Instead, the normally reliable keeper let the shot through.
The home side dominated for large sections of the game and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead on 26.06.
A David-Alexandre Beauregard pass found captain Danny Meyers free in front of goal for an easy shot.
A close range shot from fellow Brit David Clarke then made it 3-0 on 31.31 to virtually seal the game.
Steelers started the final session on the attack, but all hopes of a turn-around were over in 91 seconds as Rob Bellamy worked his way through the Sheffield defence to slot home on 41.31.
Craig Kowalski in the Nottingham net was finally beaten on 45.41 when Joey Talbot tipped in an Ashley Tait pass.
Tickets for Wednesday’s crunch title clash can be purchased through the Sheffield Arena Box Office on 0114 256 5656.