The 5-1 win at the Utilita Arena on Saturday night sent a strong message, not only to the visitors – who saw their losing streak stretched to three games – but also to the rest of the league.
Clearly, we are still in the early throes of the 2023-24 campaign but, considering all the emotional turmoil they have gone through in recent weeks in the wake of the Adam Johnson tragedy, the Steelers again showed their ability to perform under pressure, having already returned to action with two wins last weekend.
“It was a huge win against a team we believe will be there down the stretch,” said Fox, who gave a debut to defenceman Dominic Cormier (pictured). “It needed a huge effort from us tonight. Our week was just okay, it got better as the week went on – but, again there is a ton of character in that room.
“I felt we came out and did everything the right way and took advantage of the chances that we got. We needed a win like this against a top-end team and we got it.”
A three-goal opening period set the hosts on their way, Mikko Juusola putting them ahead inside two minutes before a Patrick Watling power play goal doubled the lead at 11.31. Brett Neumann then made it 3-0 at 17.28.
A reply came from the Giants in the 26th minute from Greg Printz on the power play but, crucially, the Steelers then killed off a 5-on-3 situation to ensure they went in at the end of the second still two goals to the good.
That lead became three again when Scott Allen struck at 47.28 before Daniel Ciampini made the most of a power play for the Steelers to make it 5-1 just over seven minutes later.
In NIHL National, Sheffield Steeldogs looked home and dry at Solway Sharks when 7-1 ahead, only to be forced to hold off a stunning fightback from their hosts to eventually edge home 7-6 winners.
Two goals apiece for Brady Doxey and Vlads Vulkanovs, plus strikes from Matt Bissonnette, James Spurr and player-coach Jason Hewitt proved to be just enough for the visitors.