The nasty injury to Sheffield Steelers’ ace Jeff Legue has had a positive spin-off...it’s further united the team spirit ahead of today’s Play Off semi final against Braehead Clan.
Legue’s jaw was smashed at Coventry Blaze yet within a few hours of being operated on, Legue was back at the Arena, lending his support to his club’s Play off quest. It was typical of the centreman, who will spend months recovering from his wounds.
Team-mate Phil Hill said on video at thestar.co.uk “Jeff has been a stand-out player for a long time. He’s one of the top players in the league and a go-to guy in big games. Seeing that injury has brought everybody together. Jeff is still around he came to training. Everyone associated with Sheffield knows what kind of guy Jeff is,
“He gives his all. It was a pretty horrible freak injury to watch, as a team we have re-grouped, he’ll still be part of the team, there with us, and if we win Jeff will be as big a part as if he was still playing.”
Hill revealed Max Lacroix’s form as centre, in Legue’s absence, had been a nice surprise for coach Gerad Adams.
“I don’t think G realised he’d played some of his career at centre. He skates well with the puck and has good vision. Against Coventry he seems so comfortable for a guy who hasn’t played the whole year.
Steelers play Braehead Clan, this evening, at Nottingham’s NIC, the winner facing Belfast or Fife.
Of Clan, Hill said: “We have matched up pretty well in their Arena. I know they got a couple of results early on in Sheffield. They are playing well, offensively they are probably as good as anyone in the League so we are going to have to find ways to limit them and hope our offence does its job.
“Not many people expected Fife (to reach the final) credit to them for what they have done in the last couple of months. They are the hot team I guess along with us and Belfast. It is one match anything can happen, so it will be an exciting weekend.”
* Braehead Clan coach Ryan Finnerty has praised the progress made by the Scottish teams in the Elite League this season ahead of their play-off semi-final against Steelers.
Clan - in Finnerty’s first year in charge - finished in fifth place and have progressed to the final four weekend at the National Ice Centre for the first time having dumped out defending champions Nottingham with a stunning 9-1 aggregate victory.
The Dundee Stars secured third spot as well as winning the Gardiner Conference while the Fife Flyers will also be in their first play-off semi-finals, where they meet Elite League champions Belfast.
Finnerty, who has already committed to Clan for 2014/15, said: “Scottish ice hockey is on the up. We have a big fan base as do Fife and Dundee and we have all made massive strides which is only good for the league.
“Our fans are loud and passionate, they are one of the best crowds in the league. There is a really good camaraderie between the players and the fans. Continuity is key to any successful club, our fan base has grown and we have laid some good foundations to build on.”
Steelers coach Gerad Adams has led the club to their first play-off finals weekend appearance in three years courtesy of a 9-3 aggregate win over the Coventry Blaze.
Adams, who won the league and play-off double with Steelers in 2003/04, has helped the team to nine wins from 11 games since taking over at the end of February.
He said: “Expectations are high at this club and the organisation has had a lot of success over the years. But it has all been down to the players, they have been excellent since I got here.”