Matt Clarkson struck twice and Jake Oakley once as the Sheffield Steelkings Para Ice Hockey club began their league campaign with a 3-1 away win over the Cardiff Huskies on Saturday.
The Steelkings had to soak up a lot of early Cardiff pressure, but took the lead towards the end of the first period when Clarkson’s speculative effort from inside his own half found its way under the Huskies goaltender. They then had to rely on their own goalie Bryan Hackworth to make some key saves as the Huskies looked for an immediate response.
Sheffield grew into the game as it went on and doubled their lead in the second period. Clarkson was put through on goal by Oakley and again he finished under the goaltender from the inside right hash for his second of the game.
In the third period, Oakley got free of a defender to set up a one-on-one with the Cardiff netminder, and whilst his first shot was high, the puck bounced back off the backboards for him to bundle home his own rebound.
The Steelkings had to see out a late penalty for too many men on the ice but came good on the penalty kill, only for Cardiff to strike a late consolation as Tyler Christopher fired in a rebound at close range.
Oakley said, “I’m really proud of everyone. All the players worked hard for each other and gave what they could and I’d like to thank the off-ice staff for all their efforts too.
We had to deal with a lot of pressure from Cardiff and they’re a very good side. It feels great to get our season off to a winning start.”
With the British Para Ice Hockey League adapting a 5 point system, the Steelkings earned 4.5 points for Saturday’s result: 2 points for winning the game, 1 point each for winning the first two periods 1-0, and 0.5 points for tying the third period 1-1.
The Huskies take the 0.5 points for the tied third period.
The Steelkings travel to Manchester next Sunday to face the Mayhem with a 16:15 face-off at Planet Ice Rink Altrincham.
Reporter: Mike Rhodes