Veiled threat for Sheffield Steelers’ non-scoring forwards after Nottingham Panthers losses

Nottingham Panthers lay the law down to Sheffield Steelers, over Christmas
Nottingham Panthers lay the law down to Sheffield Steelers, over Christmas

Sheffield Steelers’ boss Paul Thompson had a mixed message for his players after twin Christmas defeats to Nottingham Panthers.

The champions played well on Tuesday’s 2-3 loss at the NIC and the coach said he would “wrap his arms” around the team to make sure they did not feel “the heat” from critics.

Jesse Schultz talks to fitness staff at the Arena

Jesse Schultz talks to fitness staff at the Arena

But in the same club interview Thompson implied it was “fairly inevitable” that changes in import personnel would be made in order to trigger more goals.

While Canadians Mathieu Roy and Colton Fretter are being successful in front of net - supplied by John Armstrong - others were not, he said...which may make uncomfortable reading for Jesse Schultz in particular, who was brought in specifically to hit the net.

Thompson bolstered the side with an extra import defenceman in Jace Coyle a fortnight ago, which in theory could indicate a change in focus was possible there - swapping one of the five import d-men for an attacking force. But I believe it is more likely that a forward will go to accommodate a new sniper.

With Thompson expressing his eagerness to get injured Swede Andreas Valdix back in his centre role, and his previously stated fondness for role players who are not under pressure to score - people like Guillaume Desbiens and Markus Nilsson, the focus of who may be going is narrowing.

Schultz came back to play over Christmas despite not fully recovering from back spasms, and he did score, albeit a consolation on a six-on-five play during the Arena defeat.

Levi Nelson has also had a relatively lean streak, but his partnership with Robert Dowd is one of the cornerstones of the team.

Recently, a Steelers’ source said there were not much chance of signing new imports in December as they simply weren’t available - yet Nottingham managed to land Stanley Cup winner Jason Williams, who ironically scored both winning goals against Steelers over Christmas.

RESULTS

Wednesday 28th December

Elite League

Belfast Giants 1 Manchester Storm 2

Dundee Stars 3 Fife Flyers 5

FIXTURES

Thursday 29th December

Elite League

Braehead Clan v Dundee Stars – 7.30pm

Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Panthers – 7.30pm

Friday 30th December

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan – 7.00pm