Now after Welsh home losses, in overtime to the Giants and in regulation to the Steelers the gap is down to just one point to Belfast though the Devils have a game in hand and just four points to the Steelers who in turn have a game in hand over Cardiff.
This weekend the Steelers face the Giants twice at home, both games at the Sheffield Arena (Saturday 7pm and Sunday 5pm.)
It’s a chance for one of those chasing side to really show their credentials. For the Steelers, who have an excellent record against the Giants an incredible opportunity to tap on the Devils’ shoulder “Hello Old Boy – We’re here again”
You would think the Devils, having had five straight victories against the Steelers wouldn’t have reacted in the way they did following the Steelers win last Sunday. Before the game their highest paid player Patric Bordeleau said: “I hate the Steelers” then post game, Sheffield born and bred goalie Ben Bowns reacted with the same tosh “I hate the Steelers.”
It seems that despite a five and one record against them the Steelers have got under the skin of their Welsh counterparts. Twice before recently have the Steelers pipped the Devils to an EIHL crown, maybe they see déjà vu – maybe they see the Steelers and think ‘Not again – not them.’
Steelers will go into the Belfast weekend at full strength. There was a scare last Saturday when Yared Hagos was hit hard and didn’t return for the remainder of the game, he returned on Sunday in Cardiff and was outstanding; what a smart hockey player he is.
A quick word on a few critics. With mention in The Star of a possible new contract for Paul Thompson, some went on the crusade of suggesting this Steelers team wasn’t exciting. Knocking the European style that they suggest we play – well if quick-transition, fast puck movement hockey is European I guess we play it. Our Swedes didn’t do us any harm last year did they? Fredrik Vestberg, players’ player of the year, coaches’ player of the year, fans’ player of the year. Conny Stromberg, he might have been 41 but worked his socks off scoring big goals.
This year Andreas Valdix has been supreme. Look how we missed him when he was out injured. Markus Nilsson the surprise package, started as a fourth line centre and now pairs the Steelers’ ‘royalty’ of Mathieu Roy and Colton Fretter on the first line.
Christoffer Björkland: the same. Speak to the players, the coaches and the opposition players and he is the D man they rate the most. When Hagos signed Paul Thompson told us that he wasn’t as offensive as Tyler Mosienko, who by the way had one goal in six league games and has just three in 21 in Denmark. Despite injury set back Hagos has become an integral part of the club, his penalty-killing in Cardiff was outstanding.
Our Swedes are proper players.
There are some who knock for knockings sake, they pick a subject without understanding it or realising that their arguments are factually incorrect.
The balance of the Steelers side is right at the present time. This weekend we ask for two performances similar to that we saw in Cardiff on Sunday, if that happens then its game-on with the Devils for a championship.