Sunday? Now that was a close one wasn’t it? 4-0 up against the Manchester Storm after the first period and before we knew it we were tied at 4-4 and hanging on.
Thank God for Levi Nelson’s winner. The game showed us that not for one minute can you take anything for granted, the league is just too strong. No team, not even Sheffield Steelers have any rights to win.
Cardiff come to Sheffield on Sunday presently sitting on top of the EIHL yet they have lost three of their five games on the road including last Saturday’s defeat in Edinburgh. Yes Edinburgh, the team that sat in fourth place in the league standings on Saturday. The Caps normally don’t get above sixth - and that’s only in June when all teams have zero points and the table stands in alphabetical order. The Dundee Stars haven’t had a pointless weekend yet and have just pushed Belfast into overtime.
Every team in this league is a good one. Every team has match winners. Recently I said that the league winners could this season lose 12 games or more, folks it could be more.
On Sunday we saw Steelers in the first period destroy Manchester, it almost wasn’t a fair fight for 20 minutes, a boxing referee would have stopped it. Then 20 minutes later we were tied 4-4. What happened was Manchester, a good side got their act together.
Like you see football sides do. Manchester United led Everton 3-0 and then lost 4-3. Like you see England following on against Australia and then winning the test match, like Andy Murray two sets up against Djokovic then losing in the best of five.
It’s sport, it’s why we love it. We can’t explain what happened between the first and the second period on Sunday, it happens in every sport on every weekend.
As fans we have to educate ourselves that Edinburgh can beat us if we aren’t at our best – that going to Dundee on a Sunday evening is an incredibly hard place to win. If we take off our club blinkers we should accept that this is a good thing. That having other clubs challenging every night is what will make our sport grow. Of course we want to win, we are Sheffield Steelers – winning is what we do, but from here on in winning is going to become harder to do.
We should be celebrating the fact that our sport has risen to this level. The same Edinburgh we shook our heads at two weeks ago after being beaten by them we applauded when we heard the result on Saturday – they beat the Devils and we loved it.
In years gone by you looked at the schedule and you knew your winners to 8, 9 or all 10 of the weekend games – now you don’t.
Saturday, Manchester v Edinburgh, Braehead v Belfast, Cardiff v Coventry, Nottingham v Sheffield and Fife v Dundee – pick me five winners, in fact pick me any four – in fact go and put a fiver on any four at the bookies, I bet you that 85% of you lose your cash.
This EIHL is the real deal, every year getting better, getting deeper and getting harder to win.
This weekend will test the Steelers on many levels, an away game in Nottingham on Saturday, another sold out barn and electric atmosphere. Return on Sunday to play league leading Cardiff. We could win one, win them both lose them both – none of us have crystal ball.
We love our sport and we love our Steelers.
See you at the Arena on Sunday folks.