The Sheffield Steelers players salute their fans after winning the last game. Photo: Alisa Keptyukha
Sheffield finishes Continental Cup in third place
The Sheffield Steelers earned a third-place finish at the 2018 IIHF Continental Cup Final after beating winless Italian champion Ritten Sport 2-0.
Andreas Jamtin and Jonas Westerling, two of the three Swedish imports on the Steelers roster, scored the two goals that lifted Sheffield to a bronze-medal finish at the 2018 IIHF Continental Cup Final.
“I think we did a good game yesterday and wanted to bounce back on that and be disciplined and stay out of the box although we’ve been there today too. We worked hard as a group,” Westerling said. “We slipped a bit away in the first game but we did well against Minsk, maybe we deserved a bit more than third place. Yesterday we were good and today ok.”
Playing three games in three days wasn’t an issue for the team as they’re used to that in Great Britain. “We play Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so we know about that. We have to eat and drink a lot but it’s the same for everybody.”
The two teams with small but loud groups of supporters on the tribune each had suffered two defeats prior to this game, sometimes clear, sometimes heartbreakingly tight and Sunday was the day one team was able to finish on a positive note.
The Steelers took charge in the first period and Jamtin capitalized on the first power play of the game to make it 1-0 for Sheffield at 15:48.
The Steelers took four straight penalties after that and thus opened the way for Ritten to create scoring opportunities but a steely penalty kill and a strong Ervins Mustukovs in the net prevented the Italian opponent from scoring.
Eventually it was another Swedish Steelers player who levelled the gap on a quick attack. At 13:38 of the second period Matt Marquardt skated forward on the right side and passed to Westerling, who made it 2-0 for the British club he joined during the off-season.
“I like it a lot there. It’s my first time playing outside Sweden. It’s a new experience for me and I really like it,” he said.
The two-goal lead proved enough for the Sheffield Steelers to win the game also because Ritten took five penalties during the last 22 minutes of play thus diminishing the chances of an effective comeback attempt.
For Ritten it was the second consecutive time the club made it to the final but also the second straight time it finished last in the final tournament.
“I think we played good all weekend,” Ritten goalie Patrick Killeen said. “Obviously they had their hands full with good teams we played this weekend but I thought the team did a great job.”
“It’s not ideal to finish fourth but it is what it is. The first game was very close, we could have won that one, we could have won the second one, we could have won the third one. More bounces our way and maybe one more save from me and it could have been the opposite. I’m still happy the way we played.”