Spring Cup: Steeldogs complete clean sweep

Sheffield Steeldogs won the Spring Cup last month, a competition deemed a success by the EIHA (PHOTO: Karl Denham)

Sheffield Steeldogs 5 Swindon Wildcats 4

Sheffield Steeldogs completed their Spring Cup campaign with a 100% winning record, but opponents Swindon Wildcats made sure it wouldn’t be a straight forward affair.

It was the perfect end to what has been a perfect tournament for Greg Wood’s side, helped by another Liam Kirk hat-trick to help get them over the line.

Swindon, buoyed by their 9-3 crushing of Bees on Saturday, were up for the challenge of spoiling the party for the hosts, but couldn’t quite manage it, despite making it a nervy final few minutes as they closed in on the gap.

Steeldogs took the lead after three minutes through Alex Graham, but that was cancelled out as Matthew Myers struck on the powerplay.

Wildcats went ahead as Tomasz Malasinski found the net to give them a slender 2-1 first period lead and from there, the game got more and more interesting.

Kirk scored the first of his treble to restore parity, but again, Swindon edged in front shortly after through Toms Rutkis.  Jason Hewitt was on hand to level things at 3-3 before the second break.

Fittingly, it was Kirk, who has impressed all the way through this tournament who settled things in the third period scoring goals number 20 and 21 – yes, that’s right – of the tournament.

A delayed penalty goal from the NHL prospect finally got the Steeldogs in front before he completed his hat-trick shortly after, to register his 32nd point over 12 games.

Swindon hit back through Balint Pakozdi with five minutes to go to set up a tense finish, but Sheffield saw out the game as they were finally handed the Spring Cup for their efforts over the past seven weeks.

Bees and Raiders were playing to avoid bottom place in the Spring Cup standings (PHOTO: John Scott)

Bees 4 Raiders 3

Raiders have ended the Spring Cup at the bottom of the table after going down 4-3 to Bees, who leapfrogged them into the second last position.

Recent results over Swindon Wildcats and Telford Tigers counted for nothing in many ways as Doug Sheppard’s side gave one last push to claim the win that was enough to put them ahead in the head-to-head record as both sides ended the campaign on six points.

The win was certainly a timely one for Bees, who were quicker out of the traps when Lewis Hook finished from a Ciaran Long assist to put them ahead inside the first 100 seconds.

Raiders, who needed overtime to defeat Telford Tigers on Saturday, pulled level through Aaron Connolly, but the home side restored their lead as Josh Smith found the net.

Bees extended their lead in the second period with two goals in the space of a minute, curtesy of Bayley Harewood, followed by Hook with his second of the game to make it 4-1.

Raiders started to make things interesting around the final ten minutes when Ashley Jackson scored on the powerplay to reduce the gap to two.

Then immediately after the restart, Callum Wells pulled the visitors even closer, making the watching Bees fans a little nervous as momentum started to shift.

However Sheppard’s men hung on to claim a welcome victory to end the Spring Cup campaign on a positive note.

As for Raiders, it may be the wooden spoon for them, but no doubt Sean Easton, their coach, can take many positives from the last few weeks, including the performances of his valiant, fearless young team.

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