Leeds Chiefs 6 Sheffield Steeldogs 5 - Hat-trick hero Adam Barnes seals overtime win for Chiefs
ANOTHER weekend, another first for Leeds Chiefs. Several, in fact.
Throw in the fact Barnes’s strike at 63.05 produced the first hat-trick by a Chiefs player - it was thought he had done so in the 4-0 win at Raiders IHC last month only for the goal to be awarded to James Archer - then it all added up to a good night’s work for Sam Zajac’s side.
But it looked like being anything but that 10 or so minutes earlier when, with just four minutes of regulation remaining, they were trailing Ben Morgan’s team 5-4 having given up a two-goal lead they held at the start of the third.
But the Steeldogs were to be denied a third NIHL National win in four over their Yorkshire rivals this season when the much-valued Richard Bentham popped up with a blast from the blue line to level proceedings.
Sam Gospel then kept the scores level with a couple of key saves to take the game into overtime where Barnes got the hat-trick his efforts deserved, the 6-5 win moving the Chiefs to within a point of Milton Keynes Lightning, who were brought back down to earth from their four-point return last weekend when losing 6-2 at home to Raiders.
It was the Steeldogs who got the early advantage in Lancashire when Kieran Brown struck at 4.26 on a power play brought about by slashing calls on the Chiefs Bobby Streetly and Luke Boothroyd.
But the influential Andres Kopstals hauled the hosts level at 9.39 after good work down the wing from Steven Moore, the Chiefs then ensuring they went into the first break 2-1 ahead when Barnes grabbed his first of the night at 14.18.
Zajac’s team doubled their lead at 25.35 through Barnes, but were pegged back almost immediately when Cam Brownley made it a one-goal game just over a minute later.
Radek Meidl kept his scoring streak going to make it 4-2 with just four seconds remaining in the period but, crucially, the Steeldogs made it a one-goal game again early in the third when captain Lewis Bell struck at 41.33.
Nathan Salem’s power play effort at 47.30 with Boothroyd in the box on a tripping call levelled matters and only four more minutes had passed before the Steeldogs regained the lead they first held early in the game, Jan Danecek firing past Gospel at 51.38.
But, first Bentham and then Barnes stepped up to ensure the Chiefs snapped their four-game losing streak to go into Sunday’s rematch at Ice Sheffield looking for a second four-point weekend return of the season.