Payette is coach of the year

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The impact made by the Kalcrest Sheffield Steeldogs this season has been recognised by people in the know.

Andre Payette, in his first full year as player-coach, has been named the English Premier League Coach of the Year in the Ice Hockey Journalists (UK) awards.

Goal ace Janis Ozolins has taken the Player of the Year award and he and netminder Ben Bowns have been included in the All Star first team while Ben Morgan got a second team vote.

Bowns has also been honoured as one of the Olympic Games Torch Bearers, in Warmsworth on Tuesday, June 26.

The accolades were well deserved in what has been an excellent campaign but now it’s back to ice time as the Steeldogs prepare for a busy three games in five days, which started with last night’s near ‘mission impossible’ Premier Cup second leg at Guildford Flames - they lost the first leg 6-3.

They face Bracknell Bees at iceSheffield on Saturday in their final home league game of the season (7.30pm), a match they must win to maintain their current third place in readiness for the quarter-final play-offs over Easter weekend.

Steeldogs then make a quick return to Guildford on Sunday to meet the Flames for one last visit.

The Premier league is so tight that seven of the eight teams are still jostling for end-of-season positions so most play-off opponents are unlikely to be known until the end of the weekend.

Tickets for Saturday’s match are available on the door from 6.30pm, priced at £9 adult, £6.50 concession, £3.50 child (Under 8s free) and £20 family.

Steeldogs gained three valuable points with a comprehensive 6-2 on-the-road victory at Basingstoke Bison but then dipped to a disappointing 2-1 overtime defeat/penalty shots defeat in the return match at iceSheffield 24 hours later.

That man Ozolins bagged a hat-trick and the Man of the Match award at Basingstoke while others came from Gomeniuk, Morgan and Calvert.

Man of the Match Lloyd Gibson had put Steeldogs ahead in the return but the game was finally decided by the 14th penalty shot.