Flames drop 5-2 score; enter 2nd leg 3 goals off the pace
With the Flames holding a late lead at Sheffield, the Steelers converted in the last few seconds of a 2 man powerplay then added a few more to complete a 4 unanswered goal finish in about 8 minutes to take a 5-2 win and a 3 goal advantage into the 2nd leg of the Playoff Quarter Final. The Flames got in front on a 9th minute delayed penalty when Charles Wells tipped a Jesse Craige shot from the blue line and that was the only scoring of the frame to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at the break. The slim offence got worse than that in the 2nd when Ervins Mustukovs and Brian Stewart traded clean sheet sessions to carry the same scoreline over into the 3rd. The Steelers finally knotted it at a goal each through John Armstrong shortly after re-start, but Brett Ferguson had the Flames back in front not long after that. In the back half of the period, the Flames took a pair of minor penalties to go down 2 men for a full 2 minutes, and after nearly killing the entire length, Robert Dowd levelled for the home team. Shortly thereafter, with Spectrum’s men back to full strength, Armstrong’s 2nd of the evening had them holding their first lead of the night then a little more than 5 minutes from close Andreas Valdix doubled the difference. Back on the powerplay, and just seconds from time, Sheffield extended their aggregate gap to a trio when Mark Matheson netted to close it out.
“In an aggregate series, it is definitely a tough way to end a game by conceding 4 goals in such a short space of time at the end,” admitted Paul Dixon.
“Tied or down a goal we were still in a very good position going home, but credit to Sheffield who just kept pouring on the pressure, and they made the most of their late chances to really put us on our backs.”
“Our biggest hurdle immediately is the psychological challenge of where we were late in the game, and where we are now going into Leg 2.”
“Somehow we all have to come to the realization that we are not down by 10 or 15 goals, we are down by the kind of score that is common in hockey so there is nothing impossible about the task in front of us.”
“We have played well at home all season long, and we need a hard working effort that give us a chance to turn this around. We know we can score some goals, and we are just going to have to come out on Sunday with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude and see what we can do.”
“We have overcome many challenges this season. This is perhaps our biggest test, but this team has been full of surprises, and you just never know what comes next.”