Dave Simms Sheffield Steelers’ ice hockey column: We have put our faith in Jackson Whistle
We staged a fightback against Cardiff at the Arena on Wednesday evening so it was disappointing to lose out 3-2.
The simple fact facing Sheffield Steelers is that the games at the weekend are a priority as both opponents – versus Glasgow at the Arena on Saturday and away in Manchester on Sunday – are our rivals for play-off positions.
We have to take points off Zack Fitzgerald and the Clan on Saturday and then go and beat Ryan Finnerty’s in form Manchester Storm the night after.
Have you ever known it this tight at the bottom before? Perhaps it has been but we have just never taken any notice before.
Tony Smith has kept investing throughout.
Joss McFaden goes down for a month and the immediate word from above was to find an injury replacement, we did in Silvestrs Selickis, a former Latvian U16, U18 and U20 international defenseman.
With the help of John Armstrong we signed Tom Zanoski and the club are making every effort to sign another forward, maybe even in time for the Glasgow game this weekend.
We have identified a player and are trying to get the release from his existing club, we are trying hard to make the deal happen.
Despite our position the club has continued to do everything it can to assist the playing staff.
We want to get better, we want to make the play-offs and anything we can do to assist then we will do.
Getting Eric Neiley and Davey Phillips back will also feel like two new signings.
Both are close and making excellent recoveries, will it be in time for the weekend? Keep your fingers crossed.
Phillips gives us a physical presence at the back end, his steadiness has been missed.
Neiley has had a rotten year, the move to MK didn’t work and then he moved back to the Steelers.
Just as he was finding form the injury occurred, a year he doesn’t want repeated.
I think Eric in the line up makes us a way better side and going into these play-off rivalry games gives us an advantage.
The club’s fitness coach Danny Mawer should be applauded too, he has worked tirelessly with the players to get them ready for action.
A word on Jackson Whistle, perhaps the most important player in the run in.
With the departure of Matt Climie the Steelers have put their faith and trust in Whistle.
This is a young man who now has the responsibility of a huge franchise on his shoulders.
I think he is up to it and so does everyone inside the club, otherwise we wouldn’t have trusted him with it.
Whistle delivered last weekend conceding 2 goals in 120 minutes against MK.
Glasgow and Manchester are different teams though and we need that outstanding Whistle form consistently in the run in.
This is a new place for us, we find ourselves on new ground chasing a play off birth and not a play off trophy. Our club has overcome many difficulties in the past, this is just another hurdle to climb and we will do it.
Enjoy the ride.