Sheffield Steelers crash out of Challenge Cup – lose 5-4 at Guildford Flames (9-8 loss on agg)

Steelers celebrate a goal, at Guildford
Steelers celebrate a goal, at Guildford

Steelers' hopes of silverware now appear to depend solely on the post-season Play Offs after their hopes of a Challenge Cup semi final place went up in Flames at Guildford.

They lost 4-5 on the night (8-9 aggregate) in a fascinating quarter-final. Coach Tom Barrasso may reflect more on the first leg, when Steelers surrendered a 3-1 lead.

Seventh in the league standings and 16 points behind the leaders, a spot in the Cup semis would have been a bonus. But Flames have proved they are more than a match for Sheffield.

The game had an explosive start. Flames killed an early penalty but went behind even-handed when Justin Buzzeo tipped in Ben O'Connor's shot. Sheffield killed a penalty against Jonathan Phillips, but they too then conceded, John Dunbar, Flames' scoring past Matt Climie, chosen in goal despite last weekend's league defeat.

The returning John Armstrong was involved in Rob Dowd's go-ahead goal at 9.13, but within 52 seconds the game was all square again as Guildford's Calle Ackered equalised.

The game was all about attack, rather than defence, and Kruise Reddick, top points scorer for Flames gave them the lead for the first time at 15;47 intercepting Josh Pitt's pass.

Guildford congratulate themselves after a goal

Guildford congratulate themselves after a goal

But just as the momentum seemed to be changing in Sheffield's favour, Flames made it 4-2 on the night, Jamie Crooks getting the decisive touch after being fed from behind the net.

O'Connor missed a chance and Owens struck a post, but Crooks' effort was the only strike of the middle session.

Climie kept his team in touch with big saves and he was rewarded when the new-look line of Evan McGrath, Jonathan Phillips and Tanner Eberle turned it a goal, tucked home by the latter.

The next goal, crucially, fell to Jesse Craig, for Flames on the powerplay...5-3 on the night. An individual goal from Eberle closed the gap at 57;24 - but for once Steelers could not pull it back.

Jonas Fredriksson - debut for Steelers

Jonas Fredriksson - debut for Steelers

*Steelers coach Tom Barrasso said the team had been desperate to sign a new defenceman, and a surprise loan addition to the line-up was Jonas Fredriksson, a 26-year-old Swede who had been playing at semi-professional Sutton Sting in the NIHL.

Last year, he played for Åmåls SK in the Swedish second division.

And his appearance meant import Anthony DeLuca was cut from the bench