Sorry, Sheffield Steelers...but new players are needed to re-ignite title drive

Jamtin-Wallace-Fretter, a successful line at Sheffield Arena on Sunday. Pic: Andrew Roe
Jamtin-Wallace-Fretter, a successful line at Sheffield Arena on Sunday. Pic: Andrew Roe

Paul Thompson is running out of patience with his inconsistent Sheffield Steelers’ team.

Sunday’s 3-1 win over Coventry Blaze only papered over the cracks following the 7-2 mauling at Milton Keynes the night before.

Thompson, I understand, felt as many as 12 players underperformed in Buckinghamshire.

The only goals of the night came from 17-year-old Liam Kirk and Welsh captain Jonathan Phillips as the big import guns remained silent.

Added to that, relative newcomer Andre Deveaux clocked up 46 penalty minutes; his sins including abusing an official and an illegal check to the head - infringements that had the team boss shaking his head on the bench.

Thompson is not revealing the names of the 12 who went missing, but Deveaux didn’t exactly cover himself in glory over the weekend and is likely to be within that group.

Deveaux, John Armstrong and Mathieu Roy were the FOURTH line to go out on Sunday, in a game where some of the 12 (if not all) made partial amends in the victory over Coventry third from bottoom Blaze.

The Jonathan Phillips/Jonas Westerling/Matt Marquardt was the starting unit for Sunday’s game - seemingly a signal from the coach that players who give their all will be rewarded, while others who don’t, won’t.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Thompson goes after a new forward as well as a defenceman - although the recruitment of a blue liner has become all the more urgent by the facial injury to Zack Fitzgerald in the final part of Sunday’s game. He needed hospital treatment.

The coach had offered a deal to Steven Deslisle, a six feet six inches Canadian defenceman, but he was outbid by HC Banska Bystrica, of Slovakia.

“He was the style of player that we needed, but we could not compete financially and so now we switch our hunt elsewhere” Thompson said.

The coach admits finding a level of consistency has proved elusive. His side are locked in fourth place with Cardiff Devils two points behind them, but with two games in hand.

“We had a pretty tough meeting after the Milton Keynes game, I was not happy with it and things were said” he commented.

“Levi Nelson came back for us even though he has been injured and he typifies the spirit we need here. He felt the team needed him and decided to play whatever the doctor thought.”

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