Match report by John Slater
The Bees returned home to The Hive this past Sunday to face the Sheffield Steeldogs for the second time this season at The Hive, the game therefore only counted towards the English Premier Ice Hockey League.
The Bees went into the game at full strength, the visiting Steeldogs were missing Adrian Palak, Pavel Mrna and Cole Shudra. Netminders Alex Mettam, for the Bees, and James Hadfield for the Steeldogs, started the match in the respective goals. Referee Matt Thompson took charge of the match with Flynn Stitch-Cunningham & Liv Andersson on the lines.
With both sides looking for the two points following their previous evenings defeats the game started at a cracking pace with chances at each end of the ice, notably for Luka Basic and Krystof Kafan for the home side and Lewis Bell for the visitors. An early penalty on the Bees, with just under two minutes on the clock, with Scott Spearing heading off for a tripping minor gave the visiting Sheffield side an early powerplay. The Steeldogs capitalized on the man advantage as Arnoldas Bosas took on the Bees defence before sneaking the puck past Alex Mettam from a tight angle at his near post for the opening goal of the evening. The home side Bees were not disheartened by the early set back piled forward putting pressure on the Steeldogs net. Krystof Kafan tried a wrap around effort, Carl Thompson came close and a mad scramble in front of the Sheffield net was cleared before a blast from Carl Graham was well saved by Hadfield. Sheffield looked for the answer and found it on a deflected shot as Andrew Hirst netted the visitors second goal with a little under nine minutes gone in the game. The Bees had a powerplay of their own shortly after as Callum Pattison picked up a roughing minor but despite the Bees efforts the visitors killed off the man advantage. Play swung from end to end but with no real clear chances on either net until the flashpoint of the first period. With just under fifteen minutes gone players clashed near the penalty benches the outcome of which saw the Steeldogs Callum Pattison ejected on a 5+Game for roughing and the Bees Scott Spearing sitting out a 2+2 for roughing. The Bees stepped up their pressure on the visitors and when Donatas Kumeliauskas was assessed a high sticks minor shortly after the Bees finally made the pressure count as with a little over seventeen minutes gone in the opening period they finally found a way past James Hadfield in the Steeldogs net on the powerplay. David Gaborcik fired a long range shot through a crowd and into the back of the net for the Bees opening goal of the evening. As the period ticked out it was the home side on the front foot and in the dying seconds Arnoldas Bosas picked up a boarding minor.
The home side Bees started the second stanza with 1.50 of powerplay and immediately applied the pressure with Luka Basic and Carl Thompson coming close. A tripping minor on Steeldogs player/coach Greg Wood extended the Bees mad advantage further but despite the Bees continued efforts the Sheffield stopper Hadfield kept them at bay. Two goals by Donatas Kumeliauskas, for the visitors, in less than three minutes extended the visitors lead to three goals and a penalty on Bees defenceman Harvey Stead looked to have made things worse for the home side. However the Bees dug deep to see off the man advantage and then picked themselves up and pushed forward well. David Gaborcik tried his luck from distance and Lukas Smital did well to force Hadfield into action too. A good shot from Olegs Lascenko forced a scramble in front of the Sheffield net but the puck was cleared. Scott Spearing, Alex Barker and Luka Basic ensured the pressure was kept on the visitors with good efforts and finally with a little under three minutes remaining in the period it was James Galazzi who narrowed the Steeldogs lead with a blast through the bodies in front of the visitors net. The Bees were visibly buoyed by the goal and pushed forward looking for more and were rewarded with another powerplay as Lewis Bell was assessed a kneeing minor in the final minute. To the home side, and their fans, excitement a goal mouth scramble was finished off well by Luka Basic, with only eight seconds remaining, in close and the period ended with the home side trailing by a single goal.
Looking for the equalized the Bees came out at the start of the third period at pace and early chances for Krystof Kafan and Carl Thompson couldn’t find a way past Hadfield in the Steeldogs net. A penalty on Scott Spearing for hooking gave the Sheffield side the advantage but with the exception of an effort from Arnoldas Bosas the Bees saw off the extra man well. The Bees then dominated the remainder of the period creating chance after chance with the Steeldogs soaking up the pressure and looking to hit the Bees on the break. Rio Grinell-Parke let a quick wrist shot go but Hadfield glove saved well. A deflected shot looped up over Hadfield and landed on the top of the goal somewhat fortuitously for the visitors. Efforts from Lukas Smital and Matt Foord were also well saved in a period that was turning into a battle of the netminders. With just under five minutes left in the game Bees forward Alex Barker picked up an interference penalty but the Bees saw off the advantage once more and then set about stepping up the pressure looking for the equalizer. With ninety seconds remaining the home side called a timeout to talk things over and to also remove netminder Alex Mettam for the extra skater. A lot of late pressure from the Bees saw them close on a number of occasions but the visiting Steeldogs clung on for the narrow win.
The man of the match awards went to forward Luka Basic and to Arnoldas Bosas for the visiting Steeldogs.
Period scores: 1-2, 2-2, 0-0
Bees scorers: Gaborcik 1+1; Basic & Galazzi 1+0; Foord, Smith, L.Smital & Kafan 0+1
Steeldogs scorers: Kumeliauskas 2+0; Bosas 1+1; Hirst 1+0; Morgan, Barry, Relf & Charnock 0+1
Bees PIMS: 12 (Spearing 8; Stead & Barker 2)
Steeldogs PIMS: 35 (Pattison 27; Bell, Morgan, Kumeliauskas & Bosas 2)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 22 (10, 7, 5)
Shots on Steeldogs (Hadfield): 43 (11, 19, 13)