Sheffield Steelers are in the final of the 2018 IIHF Continental Cup after an amazing adventure in Denmark.
Friday’s 7-1 defeat by the outstanding Minsk was quickly forgotten as we came from 3-0 down to beat hosts Rungsted on Saturday. Then on Sunday we did what everyone thought impossible, we beat Riga backed by a trio of power-play goals to qualify for the finals of this competition for the second time.
Now maybe the biggest battle is ahead of us, convincing the IIHF that Sheffield and the Fly DSA Arena is the best venue for the finals over the weekend of January 12-14.
The message from Sheffield is loud and clear. We want to make the event the best Continental Cup Final ever. We will make a show of it that has never been made before. On Tuesday we received the official IIHF application forms and they are now lodged at the IIHF head offices awaiting their decision.
We are confident that we will get the support from the Arena, the city and most importantly the fans. It maybe as late as December 3 before we find out which would give us little time to promote the event. So we’ve started preparation already so if we are awarded the finals we are a step ahead. I’ve never know the club so determined to land an event.
This weekend Steelers are back to domestic competition with our first road game in Milton Keynes since November 25 1995, a 3-3 draw as it happens.
As important as the Continental Cup is, the Elite League is the important one, lets make sure we concentrate of four points against the Lightning on Saturday and Coventry Blaze on Sunday at home.
Whilst away last weekend other clubs have caught their games up and have passed us in league play, we still have lots of hockey ahead of us and a great opportunity to climb back to the top of the league.
Nottingham sit on top of the standings, if we needed motivation then seeing their name in first place should be more than enough. Don’t rely on Cardiff and Belfast to beat Panthers, this is a job we will do on our own.
This weekend Steelers will once again have to do it with just 5 defencemen, last weekend we saw Joonas Ronnberg back with us for the Cup but his departure is now permanent. Offers have been made for a new man on the back but that is still away from being concluded.
It’s a good job we have troops returning up front. Jonas Westerling was one of our players of the tournament in Denmark alongside Levi Nelson, Robert Dowd, Matt Marquardt and Mark Matheson.
Westerling didn’t just score in open play and in the penalty shot shoot out, he created, he made the fourth unit a offensive force as well as defensively sound. He was the player we all knew he was when we signed him. In that form, he’s undroppable.
I said last week that I would have left Mathieu Roy at home, and I would have. In typical Roy fashion though he defied logic and played all three games. Credit the medical team, they worked on him at the hotel and at the rink. Stretching, exercising, working out. I think a few needles were involved as well.
Did you see the hit on Levi Nelson? How Levi is still walking is a surprise to me. Nelson missed two shifts. The word ‘warrior’ gets used a lot but Nelson is super human.
Face first, head first into the boards after a hit from behind, the neck whipping back in dramatic style. Credit his line mates for jumping in. Nelson led the Steelers in scoring, his line with Dowd and Valdix were our energy all weekend and will be much needed this weekend.
Levi has been getting treatment all week. If his heart is beating and his lungs breathing then we know he will play in Milton Keynes, he just doesn’t know any other way. Old school, that’s why we love him.
So let’s get back at it on Saturday but lets also hope Tony Smith can deliver the IIFH Continental Cup Final to Sheffield, too.