Rob Dowd’s electric form has arrived at just the right time for championship-chasing Sheffield Steelers.
The winger scored and assisted in Wednesday night’s vital 2-0 over league leaders Braehead Clan, despite struggling with illness.
Team-mates had feared he would rule himself out after picking up a bug, but he put in one of his best performances of a campaign which has seen him shuffled around different lines, looking for his best spot.
His rapport with Tyler Mosienko and Colton Fretter on the club’s second unit is one of the main reasons Steelers feel confident of capturing silverware. Dowd has chalked up seven points in his last five games.
Tomorrow, Steelers can close in on Braehead if they beat Belfast Giants at home and Nottingham Panthers beat Clan.
Jonathan Phillips, the captain, said: “We are right back in the hunt again, we dominated Braehead and have got ourselves in a good position. We have the experience at our club of getting over the finishing line first and must have planted a seed of doubt in Braehead’s minds.
“We know the job we have to do and will do it professionally.
“Dowdy had been sick as a dog, but he showed how much winning means to him and everybody else feels the same way.”
Braehead have told their fans not to worry after the “minor setback” at iceSheffield - but it is clear that a loss at Nottingham would severely undermine their chances of lifting the League title.
Meanwhile, preparation for tomorrow’s Belfast game has taken precedent over Sunday’s Challenge Cup final.
Steelers simply have to focus on the beating the champions who have seen their title defence ambitions diminish - they are in fifth place 12 points behind the leaders.