Sheffield Steelers’ defenceman Zack Fitzgerald admits his team will miss the man with the “longest hockey stick in the League” - but still thinks they can overcome Cardiff Devils, tomorrow.
Steelers go into the champions’ den on Saturday night without Joonas Ronnberg, who has returned to his native Finland.
Fitzgerald concedes the loss of his defensive partner will be keenly felt, but he still thinks they will have enough depth to get the points at a venue the team has sometimes struggled in.
Sheffield have beaten them 4-0 and lost in overtime to a freak goal, so far this season, both games being staged at the Arena.
“We played really well against them last time, I think we kind of dominated to be honest.
“They have got a history of being a good team, we have had some good battles in the past.
“I think we are playing really well at the moment” said Fitzgerald.
“Last year they kind of had our number and we’d like to do the same to them.”
Going into an opposing team’s rink is tough at that level but they wanted to leave with the points and maintain their position, he said.
That will have to be without giant blue liner Ronnberg had been “a consistent player, very good defensively, probably the longest stick in the League” said the Steeler.
“He is a really good guy and team player; we will definitely miss him, but for the time being we have got capable guys” he said. Cole Shudra has been playing well and gaining experience and “should be able to jump in full time soon.”
Steelers’ results have been varied recently, with three defeats in seven games, but the American argues that form, overall, has been good.
The side had played well in the overtime loss at Fife Flyers but didn’t “buckle down” in the final moments: “we had a lapse there and there goes the points.
“We would like some of the points back (in previous games) but things are still tight in the league race and we hope we can keep going.”
Meanwhile, coach Paul Thompson says he wants to get more offensive thrust five-on-five ini games - they currently lead the league in special teams.