David Simms Sheffield Steelers ice hockey column: Why we can’t let this happen again

It gets no more serious than this weekend for the Steelers.

Thursday, 28th February 2019, 09:38 am
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2019, 09:42 am
Anthony DeLuca, centre, with Evan McGrath, left, and Jonathan Phillips

After dropping points late on to Manchester last Sunday the Steelers must now pick something up from the most difficult weekend possible, playing the first and second place sides.

Belfast at home on Saturday and then away in Cardiff on Sunday. Sheffield have played hard against Belfast this year and been in most games, they in fact beat them early on in the season, that type of performance will be required again.

The Giants are coming into the arena on the back of two home victories against Cardiff Devils, it’s neck and neck for them in the title race.

Chasing a title is a distant memory for the Steelers, we are more interested in scraping and fighting for any points possible to make the top eight and make the post season.

Manchester, Dundee, Fife, Coventry are all alongside us. Some with games in hands, some with so called easier run ins.

Those dropped points in Manchester could be so cost worthy, it’s why points of any sorts are vital this weekend.

One positive is the form of Anthony DeLuca, 2 goals again last Saturday, he has been an offensive bright spot in a damp firing forward block so far this year.

DeLuca hadn’t played much before his season started late in Sheffield, it took him a while to get going but the goals are there, we need DeLuca scoring this weekend if we are to take any points.

Evan McGrath is closing in on the club’s top points provider, again, Evan had a slow start but the points and offensive output need to continue from the man brought in to lead the Steelers attack.

I spoke with Adam Keefe in the week, his words to me were that his sides always get a tough game in Sheffield and they were expecting more of the same this Saturday.

Let’s hope Keefe is right.

I’m told that injury concerns to Jonas Westerling and Robert Dowd will have cleared up by the weekend, again everyone of the available Steelers players needs to be out there on Saturday.

Jonathan Phillips scored his 10th of the season last weekend, his best return for a long while.

Jonno isn’t about the goals but by god his contribution this year is so important and again tells us all how important to our club he is.

The captain is leading, now we need the troops to follow the lead.

This season must be killing Jonno inside and out. Not only is this position new to him his mind set won’t be able to understand what is happening, why others aren’t as desperate as he is to turn this ship around.

One thing you can rely on is his total 100 per cent commitment to fight until the buzzer sounds on the last game of the year whenever that is.

15,000 fans have watched the last two Steelers games, another 6,000 plus crowd is expected on Saturday, strange that crowds have increased not reduced in this horrible season for the club.

It’s not an exercise we want to try and continue next year.

Work continues already on building the foundations early for next year’s side on and off the ice. Seeing two clubs so far ahead of the Steelers in the Devils and Giants this year is heart-breaking and gut wrenching, this can never happen again.