When it matters winners come to the party. They show why they are that extra bit special, it’s what sets them aside from their teammates.
Botham and Flintoff in the Ashes, Beckham’s free-kick against Greece. Moments in time where something special was required. The same goes in ice hockey and in Steelers history. That first league championship in 95; Steelers two goals down in Lower Parliament Street, Ken Priestlay scores five on the night that matters.
I don’t think I ever saw Jason Lefreniere score in Bracknell, or Basingstoke but in his one year with Sheffield he scored seven game winning goals with five of them against Nottingham and Manchester. When did Ron Shudra ever do anything that didn’t matter? Never.
A good team performance will be required by Steelers at the Motorpoint Arena tomorrow night in their must-win game against Belfast (7.30pm). A top of the table game that might just see the Giants creep too far ahead of Sheffield should they beat Ryan Finnerty’s side.
Every player needs to do his duty and play his part but to win one or two players need to play above their teammates, have to make the difference ... and Jeff Legue has to be one of them.
Legue signed a new contract this week, one that will keep him in Sheffield for a sixth season, something that Priestlay, Hand, Lafreniere, Coutenay even Allison couldn’t manage. He has a special talent, the ability to take the game tomorrow night and punish the Giants. Jeff told me on Tuesday that Sheffield had to shoot more, that in the past we were too timid against Belfast. Well there isn’t a better shot in the league than the one possessed by Legue. Big players deliver in the games that really matter and there hasn’t been a bigger game played in Sheffield for years than the one on Friday night. The stage is yours Jeff Legue.
What a dilemma Ryan Finnerty faces this afternoon as Rod Sarich will most likely say ‘I’m ready to go coach.’ You will recall that Sarich almost lost his kidney three months ago - he did in fact lose 15% of it - in a freak injury after a hit from Panther Jordon Fox. Now Finnerty wants Sarich back, like Legue, Sarich has qualities few others can match, he can be a game winner, a player who can do the unthinkable and change the direction of a game.
The problem is Finnerty wants to play both Neil Clark and Colt King and go with just four defencemen. Can he risk Sarich on his first game back as one of those four in this, the biggest of games?
Playing Sarich, King and Clark would mean that both Duff and Huttel would sit in the stands. Here’s the thing though, while it’s a huge risk if it pays off the rewards are staggering, the title flips back into the Steelers hands again and doesn’t become a near impossibility.
If Sarich can play then he must play. End of story.
Don’t forget it’s just part one of a home double-header for the Steelers as they host Hull Stingrays on Saturday (7pm).
I just have the feeling that tomorrow is going to be one of those great Steelers nights and that someone will emerge as the hero of the hour. I can’t wait.
See you there.