November 25, 2011

HC Asiago Beats Out The Sheffield Steelers

Group D’s action started early afternoon with group favourites HC Asiago of Italy facing Great Britain’s Sheffield Steelers.

Sheffield faced a major set back on D coming into this game as 1st Rod Sarich was ruled out of action last weekend when suffering an injury in a league game against Nottingham Panthers and then Steve Birnstall was taken ill as the team arrived in Denmark. RG Flath had already been practicing to cover as a 5th defenceman for the team but it looked like the team would go into the game with only 3 fully fit recognised D men. Steve Birnstill iced but how fit he was is anyone’s guess
Mark Thomas took an early holding call which put the Steelers on the back foot to start but a good penalty kill saw the British team kill of the first powerplay chance for the Italians.

DeCaro made the first big save of the game on a one on one to keep the score level as HC Asiago started to put on some pressure as the game started to settle into a pattern. Chad Huttel took a 2nd holding penalty of the period as the Steelers found themselves on the back foot again but DeCaro stood strong as did Sheffield’s PK unit as they killed off the penalty again.

The Steelers took a 1-0 lead at around 12 minutes of the 1st as Steve Birnstill picked up a loose puck and put it into an open net. RG Flath and Matt Stephenson picked up the assists. This was against the run of play but the under the weather defenceman would have been more than happy with his effort to give his team the lead. With just over 2 minutes of the period left HC Asiago took their 1st penalty of the game, again a holding call and the Steelers had their 1st powerplay chance of the game. DeCaro pulled off another great save shorthanded as the 1st period ended with Sheffield 1-0 up but the Italians outshooting them 14-10.

Tom Squires gave the Steelers a 2-0 lead with around  minutes gone in the 2nd period as the young British player gave Lerg in the HC Asiago net no chance as he put a screamer past him into the back of the net. Chad Huttel got the sole assist on the goal.

Sheffield were growing as the game went on and a slashing penalty gave the Steelers their 2nd powerplay chance.  Good possession for the Steelers didn’t lead to any chances and a penalty for too many men led to the powerplay being cut short and would eventually give HC Asiago over minute of 5 on 4 time themselves. Decaro pulled off some more great saves and the Steelers penalty kill stood firm as another penalty was killed off.

Another powerplay chance led to HC Asiago pulling the score back to 2-1 as Sean Bentivoglio fired the puck high past John DeCaro with just over 5 minutes left on the period. HC Asiago made it 2-2 before the end of the period as DeCaro made the 1st save but Bentivoglio buried the rebound as the Italians stunned the British team with 2 quick goals. Colt King regained the Steelers the lead as HC Asiago somehow managed to give the puck away to the Sheffield forward right infront of the net and he buried the puck into the net.

HC Asiago got an early equaliser in the 3rd as Chad Huttel sat another 2 minutes and the Italian’s levelled at 42.22. The game remained close as Sheffield had a powerplay chance with 12 minutes left but couldn’t convert it into another lead. It was a very even 3rd period with Tom Squire and Colt King both coming close to giving Sheffield back the lead as the game headed into the final 2 minutes of the game.

A penalty was called on HC Asiago in the last 2 minutes with a delay of game call being made but Sheffield couldn’t make it count as the game went into an overtime period to see if the teams could finish it off.
Sheffield seemed to have the better of the 5 minute 4 on 4 OT period but neither team could break the tie and the 1st game of the group headed into penalty shots.

Jeff Legue started the Shoot Out for Sheffield and he put his shot wide of the net. Vigalante took HC Asiago’s 1st penalty shot and he scored past DeCaro to give the Italian’s the advantage in the shoot out.
Mike Ramsay was then stopped by Lerg leaving DeCaro needing to make a save but HC Asiago buried the 2nd penalty shot as well and they took the extra point in the game. Sheffield put up an enormous effort but fell short at the end. HC Asiago will need to improve and build on this result against the Hungarian entrants tomorrow night but Sheffield should be proud of how they played. With a shorter bench they were never behind in this game and apart from a 3 minute spell in the 2nd where they allowed HC Asiago back into the game they were solid defensively.

- Adam Yates

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