Admit it... how many of you sat in your Arena seats last Saturday, watching starting goalie Marek Pinc leave the ice injured, and thought “Well, that’s done it?”
The Steelers were playing so well. They trailed Cardiff 1-0 despite limiting them to just three shots in the first period – this was as well as the club had played all year, dominating a first place side. But with your young back up in goal, would that be good enough to secure two points?
We of little faith. We need not have worried because in young Brad Day we have a more than capable back up who looked solid, comfortable and assured between the pipes. He shut the door on the Devils and allowed his team mates to go to work at the other end scoring three unanswered goals. Steelers win 3-2.
Twenty-four hours later he did the same to the talented Dundee Stars. At 2-2 at the end of regulation, he then went on to save all the Stars’ penalty shots and with Messrs Mosienko and Nelson converting, the Steelers returned to Sheffield in the early hours of Monday morning with four points in the bag.
It was certainly a beautiful Day, thanks to Brad.
“Not fazed at all” - those were words said to me separately by head coach Paul Thompson, captain Jonathan Phillips and Day’s teammate Mathieu Roy when referring to young Day. “He isn’t fazed by anything, he takes it in and just gets on with it,” added Thompson.
“His improvement this year has been incredible. The boys love him, love playing in front of him.”
Twice now, Day has had to enter a game 1-0 to the Cardiff Devils, once replacing the injured Tyler Plante and last Saturday replacing Marek Pinc. Twice he has shut the door and earned the Steelers the points. Twice the Steelers have gone into a penalty shoot out... twice Day has shut the door, beating Braehead in Glasgow and last Sunday with the victory in Dundee.
All of a sudden people are taking notice. Articles in newspapers, interviews on the radio... and this week the TV stations called us (rather than us call them) asking if they can come to training and interview this Brad Day kid. We may have just found ourselves a new Steelers star, folks.
One thing that the general punter likes about Day is that he is a local lad, a good old Yorkshire boy. He relates to the bloke in the stands. They can actually see a bit of themselves in someone like Day. As he starts his career he could do worse than look to another Steelers star who this week celebrates 11 years with the club and on Tuesday had his testimonial; Jason Hewitt.
Hewitt shares that appeal with the fan in the stands. He connects, he relates with us all. Its why we root for him because we know he is giving his all for us. Sometimes when you hear people say things like ‘he is a great team guy, or he is great in the room,’ I think it takes away from what he does on the ice, which at the end of the day is what the player wants to be known for.
Hewitt isn’t a skilled Robert Dowd or Ben O’Connor but on the ice is equally as important. Over the years he has scored big goals, championship-winning goals. He has blocked shots, won critical face offs in key moments of the game and killed more penalties than probably any other Steeler in history. He has worn the Steelers’ shirt in more games than any player in history, more than even the great Ron Shudra.
Off the ice he is the “GLUE”. Those were words many of his team mates used on Monday at his testimonial dinner when asked to speak. Mathieu Roy, the club’s great goalscorer, said to me: “You can replace me, you can buy more goals, there are players out there who will score but how do you replace Hewy?
“How do you replace his heart, his desire, his love for the club? How do you replace the guy who stands up and makes us all honest every training session?”
Mathieu makes a very good point. How lucky as a club were we to have the three musketeers in Mark Thomas, Jonathan Phillips and Jason Hewitt? The three of them weren’t superstars of the game but history will show them as being three of the most important players who ever wore the Steelers shirt.
Big weekend ahead with a home and away series against Coventry, whoQ have been a bogey side for the Steelers to date. Messrs Plante and Pinc have failed against the Blaze, now it’s time for the young Day.