Dave Simms column: It’s not over until the Fat Lady sings...

Brad Day, right and Andy Jaszczyk - Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 30/01/16
Brad Day, right and Andy Jaszczyk - Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 30/01/16

Whilst many people reacted to last weekend’s three point loss to the Coventry Blaze with a string of negatives I looked at it differently.

I tried to put a sense of perspective into where the club is right now – after doing that I felt even prouder of the team, the club and all the coaches, players, staff and fans connected to it.

Lets start of with a few numbers. Tuesday’s game against Belfast - a 2-1 win was our 54th of the season. More than any club. Sat in the stands injured last weekend were four keys players, goalie Marek Pinc together with forwards Dowd, Desbiens and Fretter. Collectively through injury they have missed 52 games this season.

In January we played 13 games. Of the 11 league games we collected 16 of 22 points and remember we lost three points last weekend! That was 15 out of 18 going into the weekend. We also qualified for the Challenge Cup semi final.

Battered and bruised this club has just kept on going. I can’t remember a season when we have been as decimated with long term injuries as we have this campaign. Look at Colton Fretter, our game changer. The 25 games he has played this year he hasn’t been close to fit for. Since his arrival Guillaume Desbiens has probably been the best power forward in the league. Robert Dowd can’t be replaced.

Add to that Mathieu Roy being hurt all year, Tyler Mosienko playing when he shouldn’t. Levi Nelson was under the doctor, not eating, having fluids administered to him but turning up and playing during that time. Jason Hewitt lost 20lbs with illness. Never missed a training session, never missed a game.

Last weekend had been waiting to happen for a while now: it’s to the players’ credit that it took until the last weekend of January before the flood defences crashed.

Reality check. Last Sunday we had a British back up-style goaltending performance from, wait for it...a British back up goaltender. Up until then Brad Day had massively overachieved. His progress this year has been spectacular. We all love him at the club but it was only a matter of time until he played as he should, as his age and experience demands.

As The Star commented this week, goaltending this year has been our Achilles heel. Tyler Plante started off on fire, lost his confidence, got hurt and was never the same.

Marek Pinc has struggled with consistency.

It’s a miracle that taking all of the above into account we have a team still contending. It’s a credit to the group that they haven’t given up.

I read this morning that one fan had said “we were promised old school gritty hockey” - I’m sorry but hasn’t Zack Fitzgerald, Nelson and Desbiens brought the Steelers that? As disappointed as everyone associated with the club is with last week’s results and the implications that has on the league standings this is a team we have enjoyed this year,one that leaves everything on the ice.

The week off, the international break can’t come quickly enough.

These guys need a week away from the rink.

Belfast on Saturday will be another huge ask. The pre sales we received from the Arena on Monday make this game (with the exception of Nottingham fixtures) the best of the entire season to date.

As for the League title - it’s not over until it’s over, folks.