Backs to the wall for Sheffield Steelers

After 18 seasons in professional ice hockey, Darrell Hay has seen it and done it all before.

So the veteran Sheffield Steelers’ defenceman is not about to start panicking after his side slumped 5-1 in a friendly at Coventry Blaze on Sunday.

Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 30/08/14

Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 30/08/14

Steelers had beaten Blaze 4-2 the night before, but ran out of steam on Sunday, fatigue forcing a series of mental errors.

Hay, 34, said of the new-look side: “We have just got in here and are learning about ourselves. But we know the effort was not good enough in Coventry and we are not going to make excuses.”

Hay admitted his legs had been tired after the previous night’s game, and it was clear there was little left in the tank for him and others in the return game. Some of the side had flown into from north America on Thursday and Friday, so the lack of rest and preparation told its own story at the SkyDome Arena.

Coach Gerad Adams said the team would train on ice from today until Saturday, before their league outing at Cardiff Devils on Sunday.

He said the team needed practice more than game action this week, as systems and familiarity had to be built in.

That process should be aided today by the arrival of Colton Fretter, for whom much is expected in front of goal.

Fretter should fit in well as Hay says the dressing room had begun to show signs of being a close-knit community.

“The group is close already” said the Canadian, adding that Saturday’s win showed the leadership and structure within the team.

The skater has played alongside Frank Doyle and Gord Baldwin before. “It is a fraternity, everybody looks out for each other. Especially us north American guys, coming overseas, we look out for each other.”

Hay played 42 games with Tohoku Free Blades in Japan last year and said the British game was “more north American, more rough and tumble, more physicality.”