Steelers return from their European travels this week and head right back into the firing line with a home game against Cardiff Devils.
Their schedule has had a few holes in it since the start of the year and Ryan Finnerty’s side now has several games in hand over the teams ahead of them, Belfast and Nottingham.
The trick, of course, is winning those games and converting them into points.
Unfortunately, the flip side is that the Steelers now have a horrible 10 week period during which they will play 30 games.
Who says size doesn’t matter? Not the Steelers as the size of their squad is vital to any title assault.
Three weeks ago owner Tony Smith allowed Finnerty to bring R G Flath in for a 60 day period while Mike Ramsay was out with an injured hand. Smith let Finnerty know that he would extend Flath’s deal until the end of the season. With Rod Sarich expected to be out for the season, Flath’s inclusion only put the Steelers back where they started so the news that Smith had again opened the club’s purse strings and allowed Finnerty to sign another defenceman will please not only the coach but the fans too.
The other good news is that captain Jonathan Phillips will be back, maybe as early as Saturday’s game against Cardiff, after recovering from his knee operation in record time.
The club were concerned that he had recovered too quickly and wasn’t ready but the surgeon who carried out the operation was due to sign Phillips as ‘good to play’ tomorrow.
Steelers had 17 players in Europe last weekend playing against 24 Italians, 24 Danes and 25 Hungarians. The depth counts, not only does it keep guys fresh it stops you overplaying tired players who will then pick up injuries. Tony Smith has shown in just four months that he is prepared to back his coach, back his club and back the Steelers to more success.
All an owner can do is give his coach a chance to win, he can’t score or make a big save but he can give his coach the tools needed to carry out his job. Smith has done that for Finnerty and the Steelers seem to be going from strength to strength on and off the ice.
On the flip side they face a Cardiff side owned by the Steelers former guru Paul Ragan, the “secret millionaire” who took over the Sheffield club last year before almost folding it this summer.
Cardiff have recently lost Mark Smith, a valuable defenceman, who will be out for the year yet the Cardiff coach Gerad Adams has been told he can’t replace him. It makes those summer changes that the Steelers underwent worth it now doesn’t it?
Steelers v Cardiff Devils, Saturday, Motorpoint Arena, face-off 7pm. Ticket information contact 0114 2565656.