Simmsey column: ‘Moose’ can lead Sheffield Steelers to Final victory

Ervins Mustukovs against Nottingham Panthers, last weekend
Ervins Mustukovs against Nottingham Panthers, last weekend

I bring you breaking news today in this article. Steelers kept it quiet from all of the local media outlets.

You see the club has been under investigation in recent weeks, serious investigation that could have led to serious consequences.

Yes, I can advise you that the RSPCA were called in after it was reported that we had been cruel in overworking the “Moose” and to be fair, they had a point.

The Steelers goalie, Ervins Mustukovs (Moose) has played more minutes than any other goalie in the Elite League, 2,709 playing all 45 games.

Yet despite this massive workload Moose is still ranked first in the league’s saves percentages with an incredible 91.3%

We have seen a change this year in how clubs approach goaltending. Nottingham and Belfast especially have changed things up and it is something the Steelers will surely look at this summer.

Jonathan Phillips: bring it home, lad!

Jonathan Phillips: bring it home, lad!

Panthers have an outstanding but fragile goalie in Wiikman and thus bought in an import back up in Pascl. Giants fell lucky with the form shown by former Steelers coach Dave Whistle’s son Jackson in Belfast coming off an horrendous injury. Those two, having two goalies capable of starting, have ensured that the starters see less ice and get valuable rest.

Elite League goalies are the hardest working goalies in professional hockey. No others will play as many games. Recently Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said that he wouldn’t play his starting goalie over back to back nights ensuring his second goalie would play 18-20 games a year.

Well in the Elite League goalies play back to back games every weekend of the year. Other pro leagues around the world play say Friday and Sunday (German DEL) this isn’t possible in the UK, we are a weekend sport, play one of your games every week on a Friday and you’d go bust by Christmas. In previous seasons you could play your genuine back up a little more often because there were always certain clubs you would be confident of a result against. Now though the League is too good with every club capable of beating every other club.

So to all fee paying RSPCA members, all animal lovers around the Sheffield area, we promise to look after our Moose just as well as we possibly can.

Sunday could be a big day for the Steelers with the first trophy of the year up for grabs. The Challenge Cup, the Steelers haven’t won this competition in the Elite League era and have the odds against them this weekend after the EIHL prevented them moving Saturday’s game with Coventry forward three days.

On the upside I believe Steelers have played their three best games of the year this season in Cardiff. Yes, Devils won two of those. But we were up against everything that could possibly go wrong on those nights.

Cardiff have had their fun and games with Steelers in the preparation. Insisting on us playing the Blaze game being one. Even with Steelers being the ‘home team’ (as highest seed) the choice of dressing room and home bench was denied as well. Cardiff advised us that this wasn’t possible as the other dressing room had Devils photos inside it. We even offered to help them take them down – still denied.

Hey ho, to the final we go with everyone in the league rooting for the Welsh, other clubs, others coaches and other fans. Ironic isn’t it that maybe the only Welsh guying smiling on Sunday will be our captain Jonathan Phillips. Bring it home Jonno.