When frustrated Manchester Storm player-coach Omar Pacha kung fu’d his foot through the plexi-glass on Wednesday night, three things became transparent.
One: the gaping hole he left behind. Two: he may need an anger management course. Three: He can’t seem to beat a Sheffield Steelers team that is now very much back in the race for the league title.
Pacha hasn’t won any of the 13 Sheffield meetings he’s had as player coach. And while he was incandescent with rage at the refereeing decisions that swung the match towards the South Yorkshire side, he knows Steelers have a pedigree his sides fail to match.
The significant question now for Sheffield, is whether they have the pedigree to overcome Cardiff Devils.
Steelers badly want to keep hold of their championship status and that wish will be heavily influenced this weekend, when they play Devils home and away. Each side has won all their home games in the series so far.
With Steelers winning their last three home games against the Welsh by a single goal, Devils will be looking to break that cycle. But Sheffield coach Paul Thompson believes the guts his side showed in the 4-3 win at Manchester could see them through. “That was a character win” he said. “It sets up the biggest weekend of the year. It was great to see the boys refreshed after the international break, we had a lot of energy. There were a lot of big performances. Mathieu Roy might not have scored, but his work-rate and contribution was fantastic. Marek Pinc was rock solid in goal. Now we have got to do the same again.”
Steelers have had to refine their style since losing injured shooters Colton Fretter and Rob Dowd. They are having to be busier around the opposition net, hoping to create close-in goals.
The grittiness on display is represented perfectly by the Jeff Legue-Jonathan Phillips-Jason Hewitt line who put in a dominating shift in the Roses game, Legue scoring twice, for the first time this season..