October has not been a bad month for Sheffield Steelers - they have recorded a clean sweep of four victories so far and coach Paul Thompson is finally satisfied with both his team’s attacking and defensive play.
The only cloud on the horizon is that of lingering injury concerns - defenceman Ben O’Connor has joined forward Levi Nelson out after injuring his hamstring as Steelers blew away Belfast Giants 5-1, on Sunday.
Steelers cannot bring Rod Sarich back into the fold for O’Connor because Sarich is an import and they wouldn’t decommission Nelson to make way for him as they hope to have the winger back soon.
But injuries apart, Thompson is delighted to see his side having conceded just two goals in two games.
The coach said coaching staff and players had put a lot of time behind the scenes into honing defensive play and responsibilities.
Previously, while the side was winning games, they were giving too many chances away.
Opponents “were not really having to work too hard for them” he said.
“But we knuckled down. Moose (goalie Ervins Mustukovs) was big for us too.”
Offensively, Steelers left the best to last, at the weekend, blitzing Belfast 4-0 in the last session.
Their first two goals had come from Jesse Schultz, who Thompson had moved to be on a line with Andreas Valdix and Robert Dowd, switching Colton Fretter to work alongside Mathieu Roy and John Armstrong, in Schultz’s place.
Thompson wanted to ensure Dowd’s performance levels did not drop - something that happened in the past, he said, when Nelson was out injured.
“We all know Schultz’s qualities, he had a slower start than the other guys but he is showing what he is about now.
“Two great goals, but there is not a better player (in the League) than Andreas Valdix right now.
“He is great in every zone” said the coach.
“I am really happy with his game and Schultz’s, getting on the board and making plays.
“But I am happy with the (overall) team. Defensively, we have worked so hard over the last couple of weeks, to try and sort out and re-arrange ourselves to be a hard team to beat.”
He said Belfast were defensive-minded and were working on the assumption Steelers would break down, but his side avoided turn overs and “one-on-one hockey” in a game watched by 5,149 fans.