Sheffield Steelers star asks fans to stay loyal after three home losses

Sheffield Steelers’ import Mike Ratchuk hopes the fans stay behind them after falling behind in the league title race.

He accepted consecutive home losses to Braehead Clan and Belfast Giants (twice) has been hard to stomach for the club’s followers.

The play-anywhere skater insists the losses do not mean they have blown their title hopes.

“Obviously it takes us a little more away from the direction where we wanted to go.

“For us, maybe we will have to go on a bit of a run. But we have to get our heads back together, get positive and be ready.”

The New Yorker admits with 17 games left, it was now “close to having to win every game.”

But he said: “I know we are more than capable of doing that.

“Its obviously not the position we’d like to be in.

“It is going to be tough but I think we are ready for it.”

The 28-year-old former AHL man accepts the home defeats can’t have been easy for the fans to watch from the stands.

Mike Ratchuk - Sheffield Steelers v Belfast Giants 20/11/16

Mike Ratchuk - Sheffield Steelers v Belfast Giants 20/11/16

“Hopefully they stick with us” he said.

“We can have a run here and we’ll have our third title.”

Steelers entertain Dundee Stars on Saturday - the game is at iceSheffield, a venue where it seems sometimes difficult to sustain an atmosphere and attracted less than 1,500 fans for Braehead and 928 for Edinburgh Capitals last month.

But Steelers are calling on their support to get behind the team on Saturday as the try and revive their title hopes.

Dundee host Edinburgh Capitals on Friday in a game that does not face off until 7.30pm, so they will be a tired unit when they arrive in South Yorkshire.

Stars seem likely to “park the bus” - play defensively - as they did at iceSheffield on December 14, when Ratchuk was among the scorers in a 4-2 home win.

On Sunday, Steelers travel to third-from-bottom Coventry Blaze v Sheffield Steelers for a 5.15pm start.