Whilst training camp will continue for the next two weeks, the pre-season games are over and all thoughts turn to the season starting – a cup game in Nottingham on the 1st and then the big league home opener against Milton Keynes on Saturday 8th September.
I love how the club recognises the importance of a home opener and wants a massive crowd to turn out to see the guys on Arena ice for the first time – every ticket for that game on the 8th September costs just £5 – a Saturday night out in Sheffield for a fiver – you just don’t beat that do you?
By the time the season starts the injuries the Steelers have picked up in training camp should have gone away. Mark Matheson, Robert Dowd, Jonathan Phillips, Matt Rupert and Brandon Whistle should all be back on the ice at the start of next week and be available for the game in Nottingham a week on Saturday.
What did we learn from the four pre-season games against Leksand and Timra?
I think we learnt that this group has some character, to play short handed against such quality opposition is a massive positive.
I also think for the first time I can remember since we started playing opposition like this in pre-season, we skated with them for every minute of the four games.
In fact in the 3rd period of both games against Timra we took the game to them when 5 on 5.
Not only did we skate every stride with the SHL side we did it with 3 lines against their 4 and we did it with a 16-year-old playing a regular shift on the blue line (Jordan Griffin) and a pest of a 17-year-old playing on our second line, in fact a word on Kieran Brown, how good was he this training camp.
We talk about Liam Kirk getting drafted and now playing for the Petes in the WHL but I would suggest to you that Kieran Brown right now, in August 2018, is a little ahead of where Liam was at this stage last year. How encouraging is that?
Brown hasn’t the size and the natural athleticism of Kirk but he is a bull, as strong as an ox and Kieran plays with some jam. When I say he is a rat that isn’t a derogatory statement, it’s a term of endearment.
Every one at the club loves Brownie. I think right now he has worked himself into the starting 12 forwards and I can’t wait to see how he develops over the next year. If he progresses as Liam did then could we be about to see another Steeler drafted next summer.
The crazy thing is that many think that young Jordan Griffin could be better than all of them – 18-year- old Kirk, 17-year-old Brown and now 16-year-old Griffin. You have to love what Thompson is doing with these kids. Let’s not forget Cole Shudra either, he has worked out hard this summer, he is a big young man now. Those were his two first outings of the season against Timra, now he drives down to Milton Keynes to play there for a season. To learn more of his trade and to play the important minutes he wouldn’t have had the chance to play in Sheffield.
I’d suggest that the next 8 months are the most important of Cole Shudra’s career, if he does well, plays hard then he will come back to Sheffield at a time when they will need another strong British forward.
The whole Steelers community wish him well.
If pre-season did one thing it was to calm down the doom merchants regarding the club’s goaltending. Jackson Whistle was the star of the show every night. We shouldn’t be surprised as Whistle was the star of the show many times in the last two years when playing against us and beating us.
I think there was more pressure on him than any other player over the last two weekends, he should he could handle that pressure and come out on top. He will prove to be a great signing. Let’s give credit to his brother as well, that was some shot he took on his foot wasn’t it? I know I would have stayed down and would have been off work for a month, Brandon tried to get up, did get up and still tried to block more shots. Two days later he was in the gym with the rest of the team. You gotta love that haven’t you?
Final reminder, home opener, Saturday 8th at the Fly DSA (Sheffield) Arena – a Saturday night with all tickets just £5 – make sure you get yours.