Steelers and their fans joined together in the traditional banner-raising salute at Sheffield Arena tonight to celebrate the club’s triumph in last year’s Play Off final.
Then it was back to the routine business of pre-season ice hockey, a month-long camp which should give Steelers something of an advantage over some Elite League teams.
One of those is Storm, taken over recently by Ryan Finnerty.
His new boys were looking to impress the new coach as the action swung underway.
And that, they certainly did, pulling back from 5-2 down to a single goal difference.
Tonight was Steelers’ fifth pre-season game.
The home side had enjoyed two testing games, each, against Euro opponents Nurnberg and Sodertalje at iceSheffield.
While those scores didn’t really matter, the side certainly wouldn’t have wanted a fourth straight defeat.
But Storm upset the applecart with a seventh minute from Matt Bissonette.
That stirred the hornets’ net with Mathieu Roy and Andreas Valdix both scoring in ten minutes.
But stubborn Storm levelled through Matt Becca at 27;38.
That wasn’t the expected script.
And Sheffield hit back when Valdix made it 3-2 and then Fretter added another 44 seconds later, at 32;25.
Establishing a two-goal margin was satisfying, especially as some Storm fans didn’t think the home fans had celebrated the banner raising sufficiently.
Brad Day took over from Ervins Mustukovs as Steelers hoped the close the game down.
Tim Wallace and captain Chris Auger exchanged goals within 29 seconds in the ebb an flow of the third period.
But Auger notched again on the Power Play with seven and a half minutes to go, to make it 5-4.
Storm fancied an equaliser and drove forward, Ashley Smith being pulled from the net.
But they couldn’t find the leveller.
Afterwards, Steelers’ owner Tony Smith expressed his annoyance at delays to the start of the game and the third period.
Steelers owner Tony Smith apologised unreservedly following the delays both before and during Saturday’s game against Manchester Storm.
“I’m sorry to all the fans who were delayed entering the building before the game” said Smith.
“And for the further delays before the start of the third period.
“Both delays were, in my opinion fully avoidable and I will be seeking an early appointment with the Arena management, this is totally unacceptable.
“The Steelers worked hard all summer putting on this incredible event this evening. 8,000 fans for an exhibition game is something we just don’t see in the British game. It is also important for our business, we are trying to get the message out that the Steelers are back and the hockey season is with us. The fans were brilliant and responded in numbers we could never have imagined. Then for these delays which hurt and damage our product is simply unacceptable
“It is about the time the Sheffield Arena were accountable for their actions, or in this case their lack of action.
“I can’t thank all of the fans enough for their patience during the night, I hope they still managed to have a great evening. I will do all in my power to ensure that this never happens again.
“Next Saturday we play Coventry in another £5 game in which we hope to attract many thousands of supporters for a great evenings entertainment. I trust the Sheffield Arena will put right the matters that created both delays this evening and help show our paying fans how great a night with the Steelers really is”
Saturday 26th August
Belfast Giants 4 Manitoba Bisons (Canada) 6
Braehead Clan 5 Lowen Frankfurt (Germany) 4
Fife Flyers 4 EC Kassel Huskies (Germany) 3
Milton Keynes Lightning 4 Coventry Blaze 3
Sheffield Steelers 5 Manchester Storm 4
(Champions Hockey League)
Bili Tygri Liberec (Czech) 5 Cardiff Devils 2
Mountfield HK (Czech) 2 Nottingham Panthers 4
Sunday 27th August
Belfast Giants v Manitoba Bisons (Canada) – 4.00pm
Braehead Clan v Lowen Frankfurt (Germany) – 6.00pm
Coventry Blaze v Milton Keynes Lightning – 5.15pm
Fife Flyers v Kassel Huskies (Germany) – 6.30pm
Manchester Storm v Sheffield Steelers – 5.30pm