The Steelers season over after defeats last weekend in Nottingham and Belfast? What rubbish – there is still lots to play for starting with the Challenge Cup, the second leg of the semi-final against Braehead is on Tuesday at the Arena with the club offering all tickets at just £5 in an attempt to fill the building and create a great atmosphere.
Whilst the league championship looks like it is heading to Nottingham the Steelers have to fight for every point so that they are there ready to pounce if the Panthers slip up. Also second place ahead of Belfast means a preferential play-off group. And isn’t it about time the Steelers made an impact at the final four event.
This weekend will also see the return of Jim Jorgensen following his broken ankle. Jorgensen will provide Finnerty with a headache. He now has a team selection issue. This weekend might not be an issue with Steven Goertzen injured but moving forward what are his options?
He can’t play seven ‘D’ men, so does he sit another defenceman or does he move either Rod Sarich or Chris Frank up front and sit a forward? I think it may be the latter with either Sarich’s skill or Frank’s physical presence an option Finnerty will like.
I think that Finnerty learnt a lot last season with the way he handled his side and spare imports, how he handled the dressing room following the Colt King affair. This is a delicate balancing act Finnerty has to manage and he knows a lot rides on the decisions he makes. Making the Cup final is crucial to the club and to him, the way this year ends is crucial to many of the players futures at the club I would think.
In his own mind I think Finnerty likes the make up of this side, in an ideal world he would keep the majority of its playing staff for an assault on the championship next year with just a few tweaks.
Finnerty believes he is building in the same way as Dave Matsos was allowed to; slowly making the changes needed, in a very similar way to what Cory Neilson has done in Nottingham. Therefore some success is needed to keep Finnerty’s master plan on course. The Challenge Cup has become the most important competition. Tuesday’s second leg against Braehead Clan is about as must win of a game as you can imagine. It will also be another opportunity for the Steelers and the Panthers to play in a final after Neilson’s side beat Belfast on Tuesday.