Sheffield Steelers aware of New Year threat from Manchester Storm

Sheffield Steelers don’t want any nasty surprises as they head into the New Year.

The champions are acutely aware that Manchester Storm - whom they play in back to back games this weekend - can pull off unexpected results.

Sheffield Steelers at the Manchester Storm rink

Sheffield Steelers at the Manchester Storm rink

Storm won at Cardiff Devils and Fife Flyers’ rink this month, and hammered Belfast Giants 5-1 in November, also pipping them again 2-1 on Wednesday night.

That last result, achieved after going behind, put them four points behind third-place Sheffield.

Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson describes Manchester as a “fast, team..they have a good puck-moving D.

“They continually spring surprise results, because they are a good team with good players” he said.

“It is not easy to play in their little rink, it is the only one in the country now of that size.

“We have to adjust and change our game.

“They won down in Cardiff so I think that tell you on any given night, if you are not playing to your potential, whoever you are, it can go the wrong way.”

Thompson said there would be no over-indulgence by his players.

“There is no New Year’s Eve, we don’t have one. We have got to bounce back and kick back” said Thompson.

There was no day off, this week, either.

The squad was due to have a day of rest on Wednesday, but Thompson said: “If Rangers lose two games back to back against Celtic they are in the next day.

“If Liverpool lose two against Manchester United, the same applies. That’s what happened to us over Christmas and we are collectively going to work through this as a group.

“We had a long team meeting and then took that to the ice. We are an experienced group of both players and coaches. There are a lot of veterans on our side who have been through bumps in the road like this before. There is focus but there isn’t any panic.

“We have to be ready and prepared for Manchester Storm and we will be.”

Steelers face off at Sheffield Arena at 3pm on Saturday, rather than the initially-planned 4pm.

They will have to keep a close eye on 24-year-old Canadian centreman Matt Bissonette, Storm’s top points scorer, who had a hand in both Manchester goals in Northern Ireland.