NEWCASTLE Vipers’ hopes of reaching the Challenge Cup final were in tatters at the end of the first period and non existent when they left the ice for the second break.
At 20 minutes the Vipers were trailing 3-0; when they returned to the dressing room at the end of the middle period 6-0 behind, a third heavy defeat in Sheffield looked a certainty – and a fourth shut out against the Steelers a distinct possibility.
On two minutes the Steelers’ third line, which includes former Viper Derek Campbell, successfully combined, the scoring touch on the puck being made by Jason Hewitt.
One minute and 35 seconds later the puck was again planted in the back of the Vipers’ goal, netminder Charlie Effinger allowing Rob Globke’s shot to creep beneath his pads and over the line.
The Vipers had a powerplay opportunity on six minutes when Steve Munn was penalised for slashing and with 39 seconds left on the penalty, Ben Simon (slashing) joined his team mate in the home penalty box.
Unfortunately, the Vipers couldn’t capitalise – and it cost them. For only the second time in 10 appearances, forward Adam Reynolds was order off the ice to serve a minor penalty, and had been in the away penalty box for a mere 38 seconds when Simon powered home the Steelers’s third goal on 13 minutes.
Early in the second period, the Vipers wasted another five on three powerplay opportunity when Munn and Hewitt shared the home penalty box for a minute and two seconds for holding the stick and tripping respectively.
During the second spell of five on four, Effinger made a notable save to thwart ex-Viper, Jermaine Domish.
Defence man John Schwarz was sitting out a tripping penalty when Ashley Tait hit the Steelers’ second powerplay goal of the game, on 28 minutes to make it 4-0.
It became 5-0 on 35 minutes during another Steelers powerplay which came via Rod Sarich.
Three minute later, Effinger was beaten for a sixth time as Globke put himself in with the chance of achieving a hat-trick.
Five minutes into the third period the Vipers defence was breached for a seventh time when Jeff Legue scored.
The Steelers’ No. 11 then tapped in the eighth with Joey Talbot completing the scoring.
STEELERS:Globke 2+1, Legue 2+0, Sarich 1+5, Tait 1+3, Talbot 1+2, Hewitt and Simon 1+0, Clark 0+2, Campbell, Domish and Thomas 0+1.