Sheffield Steelers are sending a strong signal of intent says supporter
Some Sheffield Steelers fans are in melt-down on social media over the trophy-less season and the release of nine imports.
We asked one supporter, Scott Antcliffe to compile his own personal, measured review of the season, for us.
"Last weekend the Elite League season drew to a close for the Sheffield Steelers losing an agonising Playoff Final grudge match against old foes, the Cardiff Devils.The Steelers put up a spirited effort but ultimately came up short losing 3-1 to the South Wales side, a theme which has plagued them for the majority of the season.The Steelers started off their 2017/18 campaign by taking part in the Continental Cup entering in the third round of the competition in Rungsted, Denmark. An impressive 4-2 victory over Kurbads Riga meant they moved on to the finals in January.The Steelers suffered a 5-1 defeat in their first game to Kazakhstan’s Nomad Astana and also lost key player Robert Dowd with a serious knee injury. The Steelers then lost to hosts and eventual winners Yunost Minsk, but followed this up with a victory over Italy’s Ritten Sport, securing them a bronze medal, which was a highlight in an otherwise under-par season.Back home in the domestic campaign the team’s Achilles heel was their inability to beat Cardiff and Belfast consistently through the course of the season.Stellar goaltending from Ervins Mustukovs helped the team to wins over arch rivals Nottingham Panthers and Patton Conference winners Manchester Storm.Other standouts included Mark Matheson with his smooth skating style, great puck handling and exceptional hockey brain.Injuries to key personnel including stalwarts Colton Fretter, Mathieu Roy, John Armstrong and Matt Marquardt and suspensions for Levi Nelson, Zack Fitzgerald, Andreas Jamtin and Fretter scuppered momentum the team were gaining in the league campaign.The Steelers were temporarily boosted with the arrival of Miika Franssila and Eric Neiley, the former providing quick transition from D and the latter a great work rate, intensity and strong board play.Towering forward John Armstrong returned from a long term hand injury sustained in December just before the start of the Playoffs. His return was fruitful by picking up eight points in just four games. Ice hockey is a results driven business and ultimately the Steelers came up short on that front, forcing coach Paul Thompson to axe nine import players.Most notably Colton Fretter and fan favourite Zack Fitzgerald. Wielding the axe has sent a strong signal of intent as the club desperately needs to get back to form which they displayed in 2016 when they were back-to-back league champions and had a fine mixture of speed and grit, otherwise fans may start to seek alternative entertainment away from the House of Steel."