Steelers fell to a second consecutive defeat in the Champions Hockey League this afternoon, going down 3-0 in Finland - but there were plenty of positives shown against one of Europe’s top leagues.
Sheffield had let themselves down in a third period collapse on Thursday night at Frolunda Gothenburg, eventually going down to a crushing 1-9 scoreline.
So they felt they had a point to prove in terms of self-respect against another side brimming with speed and home grown talent.
And, today, they showed that the gulf between the hockey nations was not as big as Thursday’s embarrassing score-line had suggested.
Paul Thompson, the coach, said his team deserved a goal, at least, and said he was pleased with the way his team had competed for 60 minutes against JYP Jyvaskyla after such a harrowing travel schedule.
Thompson’s mixture of Brits and north American were under severe pressure from the early stages, with Markus Nenonen hitting the outside of a post and Tyler Plante stopping a goal-chance after a Levi Nelson giveaway.
Janne Kolehmainen and Anssi Löfman were just two of the flying Finns putting the visitors under pressure and the hosts certainly deserved a sixth minute right-hander goal top-shelfed from Joonas Nattinen.
Almost 10 minutes had passed before a mesmerised Sheffield managed a shot on goal.
Russ Moyer fired from the blueline and Mike Duco gets his stick to it but Tuomas Tarkki saved.
Mathieu Roy thought he’d got an equaliser on a power play - but he’s interfered with the goalie and the ref washed it out. Then the same forward had a one-on-one with the goalie, but was denied.
JYP had to wait 20 minutes for their next goal, their fourth line centre Valtteri Hotakainen directed the puck into Tyler Plante’s net.
Jyväskylä, who had players absent, weren’t always firing on all cylinders, they had two too-many-men on the ice penalties and didn’t have it all their own way and Moyer executed a fine hit on Janne Kolehmainen to relieve him of his helmet.
Ben O’Connor was a whisker from getting one back but disaster struck when Tuomas Pihlman tapped past the grounded Plante two minutes from the end of the second period.
The third period showed some edge in the game, with blows being exchanged in front of the net.
Zack Fitzgerald was an inch or two or short of making the contact needed for a goal, certainly one the travelling Steeler fans would have loved to see. And, on the balance of play, they would have deserved it.
Rob Dowd, who had sweated bullets in the game, almost punished a Sami Niku slip up on a breakaway but couldn’t get past Tarkki.
Roy banged one over the top from Colton Fretter’s feed - and the game was effectively over.