SHEFFIELD Steelers are now just two victories away from an Elite League championship, after a close win over Newcastle Vipers yesterday.
If Steelers win in Braehead on Saturday and then beat the Clan in Sheffield 24 hours later, then player-coach Ben Simon will win his first league title with the club.
Steelers survived a Vipers comeback to take the points on Sunday in the North East.
With Sheffield leading 4-1 early in the third period this looked routine for Simon’s men, but the never-say-die spirit within the Vipers’ small roster pulled them back to within a single goal with less than two minutes remaining and there was relief felt by the visitors at the final buzzer.
Steelers had dominated the opening period and built a 2-0 lead by the end of it with Joey Talbot firing them ahead at 8.12 and on the powerplay Simon made it two at 12.32.
In the second period Ashley Tait extended the lead to 3-0 but despite Steelers continuing to have the bulk of the play they could not put the game away and Vipers pulled one back at 33.02 when their own player-coach Danny Stewart was on the mark.
Steelers seemed to regain control with Rod Sarich made it 4-1 after only 109 seconds of the third session, but when Kyle Sibley scored a second for Vipers at 50.15 it gave the home side renewed hope. It got really interesting when Jaroslaw Rzeszutko pulled Vipers to within a single goal at 58.16 but despite pulling goaltender Charlie Effinger the home side could not force the game tying goal and a mightily relived Steelers had the two points that pushes them ever closer to the title.