Forty minutes into Saturday’s game against Guildford, Sheffield trailed 4-3 after losing a 2-0 lead.
They had lost form, lacked defensively, were fallible shorthanded while goaltender Barry Brust conceded goals he expected to stop.
Coach Aaron Fox said their outspoken second-range conference amounted to “inside liability.”
For his own contribution, he told players they could feel sorry for themselves that teammates like John Armstrong, Jonathan Phillips and Tanner Eberle were injured…or they could just pull themselves out of their own hole.
Justin Hodgman – in his second game back from Covid where he suffered a sore throat and headache – said the players admitted they hadn’t been good enough.
“We had veterans, before Foxy came along, saying what needed to be said and we all rallied around each other and I think you could see we knew what was at stake,” the player said. of center.
Not for the first time this season, Marco Vallerand was the first to signal a new intention. His shorthanded equalizer in the 45th minute supercharged the team. In three minutes they had scored three goals to snatch the game.
Fox was relieved by the fightback – and even more grateful that their League series with Flames is now over. Their style of play just doesn’t suit the Steelers.
“Their transition game is one of the best in the League, their ‘D’ loves to jump in the game,” Fox said.
“Our own transition defense probably isn’t as good as our ‘D’ zone play. They like to ‘run and shoot’ when we’re a team that plays a certain way and if we’re going to trade chances in both ways, it moves away from our strength.”
Growing wounds are more concerning. Phillips suffered an upper body injury at Coventry Blaze on Friday.
Armstrong had a CT scan and Eberle is likely a week away from a return.
“Neither of them are considerably better,” lamented the coach.
In form, Robert Dowd had put Sheffield ahead with a deflection off the boot of Jake Bolton.
Fifty seconds later, Evan Mosey grabbed an awkward Flames pass and sprinted down the middle for 2-0.
They didn’t deserve such a big lead.
And with Sam Jones called to cut, Chris Gerrie was able to get around Davey Phillips’ block attempt. Brust was then beaten again to his left, and again on the PP, by Ian McNulty.
An exchange of goals on the power play then enthused the 5,477 fans.
Flames took the lead, but Vallerand’s genius PP tied the game at 3-3 after a clever pass from Mosey.
The momentum returned to the Flames, however, a deflected effort from Levi Cable leaving Brust caught off guard.
The home side needed inspiration – and Vallerand’s second of the night sparked an avalanche.
Mosey buried a rebound and Dowd did the same, signaling three killer goals in two minutes 23 seconds.
Robert Lachowicz produced another biting finish with a fifth for Guildford.