Simmsey column: Time for Sheffield Steelers’ big guns to start firing

Mathieu Roy
Mathieu Roy

Don’t Panic Mr Mainwaring – that was my message after a pointless weekend for Steelers against Belfast Giants.

Be careful what you wish for: we all knew that this new look Elite League with more and better sides would make things tough. Nottingham Panthers and Cardiff Devils have also found out that there’s no such thing as an easy weekend.

John Armstrong. Picture: Hayley Roberts.

John Armstrong. Picture: Hayley Roberts.

Saturday wasn’t good in Belfast, everyone admitted that. On Sunday we dominated the play but couldn’t fail to score. The big guns didn’t fire and whilst you can’t expect it every night in those big games you do look to your big stars.

Yes that Colin Shields goal was high sticks and yes the major penalty awarded to Colton Fretter as the Steelers pushed on was criminal – when will officials be held accountable for such blatant mistakes?

Makes your blood boil doesn’t it? Talking of blood boiling, the state of the Arena Ice, I’m not saying too much for now as owner Tony Smith is in the middle of talks with SIV and Sheffield Trust to see how matters can be resolved. I hope the promises made come true. This hockey club deserve better.

One player who never disappoints is Colton Fretter. Even in last weekend’s games Fretter stood out. Two years ago this guy was so beat up and injured I feared we’d seen the last of him. Behind that quiet personal presence though is a strong and determined character who just worked hard to get back to full health. I was in the Arena earlier this week and an hour after training there was Fretter riding the bike for another hour. On his own, in the corner, head down.

This is no 18 year old trying to make it. This is a 35 year old man showing others how to stay at the top. Whilst the kids were on their way home here was the Great Colton Fretter putting in the extra strides – that’s what it takes, if you really want it.

Since arriving in Sheffield Fretter has impressed not just with his skills and goals but with his quiet, understated leadership. It’s no coincidence that we have won, won and won again in his three years with us to date. Frets is one of those guys that when on the ice you feel something can and often will happen.

First with Roy and Forney and then later with Roy and Armstrong, Fretter has been a consistent offensive threat – we love him and long may he continue.

The two pre season games with Coventry had some edge didn’t they – I expect exactly the same this weekend when the Steelers and the Blaze get it on home and away.

Coventry came in to the Arena and tried their best to ‘goon’ it up, in pre-season, a strange statement to try and make in August.

This weekend there will be points on the line so it will be interesting to see how these games pan out – retribution? Well you never know.

Finally a word on Juha Koivisto. His short term injury cover deal ends after the weekend. I hope the Steelers keep him on. I think in this league we need the cover of a 15th import. In years gone by I thought it upset the apple cart a little too much. Now with the heavy, crazy schedule, the injuries that happen almost weekly and the desire of the club to play four lines I think it’s a must.

Juha knows both ends of the rink. I don’t think he is a 20 goal man but you also need those great penalty killers, those players who can hold a fourth unit together and prevent other teams big guns from scoring. A little like Yared Hagos did last year I guess. I like Juha and hope he remains with us.