A crowd of 9,300 piled into the Fly DSA Arena to watch the biggest game in the Ice Hockey calendar, the ‘Christmas Classic’ if you want to call it that, of the Sheffield Steelers vs the Nottingham Panthers. It is always the best game of the year, and both teams usually will put the rivalries aside and play proper hockey. With Tom Darnell in charge, the decisions could go either way and James Kavanagh and Danny Beresford were the two helping on the lines.
The first period was all Steelers, as the rest of the game turned out to be, their powerplay work being the death of the Panthers. On the Steelers’ second powerplay of the night when Yann Sauvé was called for holding, Levi Nelson managed to put the puck away in a stunning style as always, making it look effortless and topping it off with the one-legged fist pumps and jump into the boards.
The rest of the period, Nottingham just didn’t look like scoring at all, they had their odd chances, however, it was all Sheffield. All Sheffield. They were unlucky to have only scored the one goal in the first period with the strong amount of effort coming from each individual player.
The second period started with a bang, Davey Phillips clattering with Dan Spang who fell awkwardly into the boards, causing a little delay in play as he struggled to return to his feet, however, he was out playing in no time, so it was good to see he wasn’t seriously injured.
Ten minutes of strong Steelers efforts came before another stunning slap-shot came from Mark Matheson on a Bussiere’s boarding call. Any goal he scores is a beauty, and this one added to the list. If you can name a better all-around player than Mark Matheson in the league now, let me know, because I’m pretty sure he’s the best one out there. I’ll wait.
As the Steelers sailed through their penalty kill, just out of it, John Armstrong sent the puck homeward bound to close out the period, going into the final 20 minutes with a 3-0 advantage. The Panthers just didn’t look like coming back from this at all, and thankfully, they didn’t.
Just before Mathieu Roy made it 4-0, the fantastic Nottingham support slowly started to fall out, small amounts of the crowd heading home as they couldn’t stand to watch any more of the strong Steelers hockey that was happening. The third power-play goal of the night came for the Steelers through Mathieu Roy at 51:15 to close out a victory for the Steelers.
It was a great game for Sheffield to boost their confidence and get them prepared for the returning leg down the M1 in the sold-out National Ice Centre tomorrow. It was back to back shutouts for the Moose to add to the team’s solid victory.
Man of the Matches:
Nottingham Panthers – Michael Garnett
Sheffield Steelers – Mark Matheson
Sheffield Steelers –
Mark Matheson 1+1, Andreas Valdix 0+2, John Armstrong 1+0, Levi Nelson 1+0, Mathieu Roy 1+0, Scott Aarssen 0+1, Robert Dowd 0+1, Colton Fretter 0+1, Tim Wallace 0+1, Jonas Westerling 0+1.
Nottingham Panthers –