Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson has put his faith in forward Geoff Walker ahead of this weekend’s League and Challenge Cup final action.
The winger was top goalscorer in the Alpine League, netting in most matches, before joining Sheffield, who play Coventry tonight at home and then travel to Cardiff Devils to dispute the first trophy of the season.
Walker has scored three goals in nine matches for his new club and Thompson is not unhappy with that ratio. “I’m not surprised” he said. “It is a different game over there (Italy) they have three lines here and we have four. I thought he was strong last weekend and firing on all cylinders.
“He gives us an added dimension and does a lot of work off the puck.
“Am I getting the return I wanted? Yes. I don’t expect two goals from him every night, him or anybody else at this level. But I have to admit it would be nice if he did that this weekend!”
Thompson admired the way Walker stepped up to Jeff Brown against Nottingham Panthers, last Saturday.
“Brown is antagoniser as he has shown going after Markus Nilsson and it was great for Geoff to stamp his authority. At the end of the fight, he swung and missed an fell over, and people may think he lost that, but he connected more...it was a points win!
“But we need everyone putting that sort of commitment in, this weekend.
Thompson says his side have performed well in Cardiff’s new rink this season, winning twice.
“Three of our losses there were by a single goal. We are quite comfortable playing there” he said.
“If we can get Andreas Valdix back from injury- his line with Rob Dowd and Levi Nelson has been the best in the country for three of four weeks - it will help.
“Valdix started skating on Thursday, but he is just coming back so we will see how he is for the weekend,
“It is possible that we don’t play him on Saturday but play him on the Sunday.
“I’d prefer him to do both, so he can blow the dust away, but generally he is in tremendous shape. We have to factor in whether the risk is worth it,
“Dowdy skated from Wednesday and will be back.
“We have wrapped Colton Fretter in cotton wool this week, he’s rested a bit, skated a bit and there were some drills we kept him from. But he is the type of player who always wants to play.
“With big game players like him and Mathieu Roy we have got a very good chance of bringing that trophy back.
“The spirit has been great since we got over the disappointment of losing at Fife Flyers last Sunday.
“A lot of hours of work and preparation have gone in - the players always respond in times like this, they are a great bunch. They know the importance of this weekend and have dialled in to what we have been saying.”
*Brad Day could start in goal for Steelers tonight, after Cardiff all but wrapped up the League title with a win in Manchester.
Friday 3rd March
Manchester Storm 2 Cardiff Devils 4
Nottingham Panthers 5 Braehead Clan
Saturday 4th March
Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm – 7.00pm
Dundee Stars v Braehead Clan – 7.00pm
Fife Flyers v Edinburgh Capitals – 7.15pm
Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze – 5.00pm
Sunday 5th March
Challenge Cup Final (Cardiff Arena)
Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers – 4.00pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Dundee Stars – 6.00pm