Tactical challenge awaits Steeler pair

Sheffield Steelers' coaching duo face a tactical conundrum at Belfast Giants tonight.

Friday, 6th January 2017, 10:42 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:41 am
Sheffield Steelers - then with Tyler Mosienko and Jesse Schultz in the side - celebrate after scoring against Belfast. Pic Dean Woolley

The second-place Irish side has an offensive style that can be thrilling to watch when they go for the jugular.

But at Sheffield Arena, they were punished twice, both Steeler wins coming by the impressive margin of 5-1.

And when Belfast had their first game at home to Steelers they switched their style to a more defensive shell - and won 2-1.

Head coach Paul Thompson said: “They are a highly skilled side but they played in a different style when we played them at their place.

“It was if they were the road team in the way they adjusted their game. They were defensive rather than the free-flowing Belfast we have seen before. They did the job well and got the points.

“But, generally, we are used to teams playing like that against us, they do it because of our speed.

Mathieu Roy celebrates scoring

“But the key for us will be that we must stay patient and take our chances when we get them.”

Thompson is relieved that Andreas Valdix will be back - he has missed 17 games this year through injury and is returning after his fractured wrist mended.

“He is a very calm player, he sees the ice very well and controls the play. He has practiced with us these last few days and skated before that with our strength and condition coach Danny Mawer so we’re pleased he is back and we are a fully fit team, apart from a lingering flu bug...but that is hitting the whole of society, not just us!”

Thompson has made little head-way in securing a new import after Jesse Schultz was released- the winger is said to have found employment in Europe.

Mathieu Roy celebrates scoring

“I have looked at seven or eight names, but nothing so far meets what we want” he said.

“In an ideal world, he’d be a right shot winger but that is not essential, maybe a centreman would also be ok - it’s all about finding the right guy to fit in with what we have already got.”

Steelers will have an eagle eye on former Steeler Mike Forney tonight, who scored against them in December’s 2-1 loss.

“I think that was his first goal against us in 10 games for Belfast., he is a threat and is one of many good players in their line up.”

As an illustration of Belfast’s firepower, Forney is a mere fourth in Belfast’s scoring charts, behind Chris Higgins, Blair Riley and Steve Savaino.

But none of them compare with Mathieu Roy’s output - 47 points in 35 games.