‘Team Elf’ defeated ‘Team Santa’ 2-1 in the Sheffield Steelkings’ first ever Winter Blast game with a late goal from Jake Oakley securing the victory.
The Sheffield Steelkings won a National Lottery Award in September thanks to public support and decided to stage the exhibition match as a thank you to the public. The teams were made up of players from the Steelkings club.
The Steelkings were also joined by a very special guest on the evening; Sheffield strongman, Phil ‘Titanium’ Roberts who was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop before the game started and to award the Player of the Game awards at the end as well.
Team Elf dominated the first period but couldn’t find their way past Bryan Hackworth in the Team Santa’s goal and the first period ended scoreless.
The tough and physical contest saw both sides battling hard, much to the crowds’ excitement.
The game remained tied for over half of the second period too and saw Team Santa pushing harder to try and take back some control of the game.
Goalie changes half way through the game saw Warren Hewett replace Hackworth in the Santa goal and sledge hockey newbie, Tom Wilton replace Gary Whiteley in the Elf goal.
Shortly after the goalie changes the game really started to heat up. The hits became bigger and the game opened up as both teams showed an obvious desire to win.
A long clearance by defenceman John Oakley caught Hewett by surprise and he allowed the puck to bounce out off of his pads into the path of a surging Barry Grayson who slotted it into the back of the net to give Team Elf the lead.
The score would remain 1-0 going into the third period. Following a team talk in the period break Team Santa came out strong and continued to push back in an attempt to tie the game.
Their pressure was rewarded when Wayne Plummer released a surging Matthew Franklin down the left wing and he fired a high shot straight past Tom Wilton in the Elf goal.
The game was now tied and would see the crowd getting closer to the edge of their seats.
The score would stay tied at 1-1 until just a couple of minutes from the end. With under two minutes left on the clock Jake Oakley raced through the Santa team to pounce on a loose puck. His shot went hard and high on the Santa goal but was spectacularly saved by Hewett to make up for his earlier blunder. With a flash of the glove he scooped the puck into the corner for the game to remain tied. Unfortunately for Team Santa, Rachel Paget was following the play down the left wing and played the puck back across to Oakley who released another hard, high shot for the game winning goal.
Team Santa pushed on for an equaliser, but despite a last minute power play opportunity were unable to score and Team Elf claimed the win.