November 20, 2018
There will be a new name on the NIHL Autumn Cup this year, as Sheffield Steeldogs and Peterborough Phantoms confirmed their places in the two-legged final for the league’s first silverware of the season.
Cup holders Swindon Wildcats were edged out in the semi final by Peterborough. The Phantoms won the first leg 4-3 at Bretton, the game swinging to and fro. Swindon were up 2-0 early, only for Peterborough to net four in a row before the second break to lead 4-2. Wildcats’ player-coach Aaron Nell scored in the final frame to set up the pulsating second leg a week later.
Again, Swindon were on the board early with Toms Rutkis squaring the tie inside six minutes. Again Peterborough came back – Petr Stepanek and Corey McEwen putting Phantoms up 6-4 on aggregate at the first break.
Late in period two Jan Kostal and Edgars Bebris scored less than two minutes apart for Swindon bringing a packed Link Centre to life and squaring the tie at 6-6 with one period to play. Parity remained throughout the third period until Ales Padelek for Peterborough scored at 55.19 to give Phantoms the advantage one final time.
Sheffield’s progress was equally dramatic over rivals Hull Pirates. The ‘Dogs actually lost the home leg 3-4, Hull’s player-coach Jason Hewitt scoring twice. Cameron Brownley’s goal three minutes from time which made it a one-goal game for Sheffield turned out to be priceless.
Halloween night’s second leg in Hull saw the Steeldogs jump out early through Nathan Salem to level the tie on aggregate. Lee Bonner netted for Hull, but Sheffield took control with three goals either side of the first break through Milan Kolena and a brace from Duncan Speirs, putting them 7-5 up overall.
Pirates did close the gap with Bobby Chamberlain’s second period tally, but from then on Steeldogs and Dmitri Zimozdra in particular shut the door. Dima made 48 saves on the night, 24 of them in the final period as he denied Hull time and again and preserved the Steeldogs place in the Autumn Cup Final.
So the first silverware for #oneNIHL this season will be decided before Christmas.
Sheffield’s Bauer Arena hosts the first leg on Wednesday December 5th, puck drops at 7.30pm. For ticket information follow @SteeldogsIHC on Twitter or visit their website to buy online when they are available.
The second and deciding leg will be at Planet Ice Peterborough on Friday December 14th, face off 7.30pm. Follow @GoPhantoms on Twitter for information and buy your tickets online when they go on sale.