A mini-winning streak and a player-coach who knows it’s good to feel proud of his team.
Such is the scenario for Kalcrest Sheffield Steeldogs and Andre Payette as they get ready to add to their ever-increasing points tally in another double-header weekend.
Steeldogs’ home winning double, 4-2 and 2-0 over Slough Jets and Peterborough Phantoms respectively, saw them bag 12 of the last available 14 points and brought further praise from Payette.
“Again, I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” he said. “The two games couldn’t have been closer but the guys determination ensured we came out with two wins.
“The defence has been superb, with Steve Duncombe and Lee Haywood being exceptional along with Ben Bowns, with his shut-out against Phantoms and only allowing two goals over the weekend.”
Greg Wood put Steeldogs ahead against Peterborough after 19 minutes but Man of the Match Bowns then made some great saves which included a penalty stop at 46:19, before Lloyd Gibson finally relieved the pressure at 57:07. Andrew Hirst opened their account against Slough after two minutes and although the visitors equalised Janis Ozolins restored the lead at 17:26 with a superb strike. Jets levelled it up once more in the second period but Pavel Gomeniuk restored their advantage and Ozolins sealed victory on the hour. Lloyd Gibson claimed the Man of the Match award.
Steeldogs’ four point return means they are now tied on 38 points with Manchester and Slough, five adrift of second-placed Milton Keynes while leaders Guildford have 44 points.
They host Bracknell Bees at iceSheffield on Saturday (7.30pm) and then face the first of five successive away games, with the return against Peterborough on Sunday (5.30pm).
Steeldogs are currently 2-1 up in the series against Bracknell but it could be another nail-biting showdown as all three games have been very close with two of them being decided on OT and penalty shots.
The Bees suffered two defeats last weekend so Steeldogs will be wary of any backlash especially with hotshots Lukas Smital and ex-Steeler Martin Masa in town.
The European Figure Skating Championships come to Sheffield, so Saturday is the last chance for fans to watch their team at home until January 29.
Tickets available on game night, priced at: Adult £9, Concession £6.50, Child 3.50 (under-8s free), Family £20.
See www.sheffieldsteeldogs.co.uk for more information.