The 2019 conundrum facing Sheffield Steelers’ coach

Manchester celebrate at Steelers' expense
Manchester celebrate at Steelers' expense

Tom Barrasso starts the New Year with the puzzle of how to plug the leaks his Steelers' team keeps springing.

The five goals Sheffield conceded at Manchester Storm on New Year's Day took the number conceded in 33 League games to 111 - worse than any one other than the bottom three clubs.

It is team defence, rather than just the defenceman, that needs to improve.

Which is why, despite Anthony DeLuca's hat-trick in the 3-5 loss, that Barrasso chose to again highlight his apparent defensive deficiencies.

"Anthony’s offensive game early was strong. He is a gifted offensive player" said the coach.

"The game is played in both ends of the ice however and defensively he needs work."

It is probably not what the forward wants to hear and may seem harsh on an individual, but it sends out the signal that even hot-streak scorers must prioritise defence over everything else.

Steelers' defeat ended a three-match winning run. Barrasso said: "I liked the start to our game. We were skating and on the puck aggressively.

“Losing a (2-0) lead as we did is not something we have done. But if you stop skating and get out-worked, It will happen."

Barrasso said it was very disappointing "to have a winning streak end as it did."

The club's thin infrastructure has continued to try and source better players than they currently have - but so far, other than promising "college kids" they have come up with few credible leads.

Steelers currently lie in fifth position, some 16 points adrift of leaders and reigning champions Cardiff Devils.

The Welsh have just replaced Belfast Giants top of the table with a victory over Guildford Flames.

That will be all the stimulus Giants need when they host Sheffield in back to back games this coming weekend.