Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson says the future of some of his Sheffield team will be determined by how successful the club is at this coming weekend’s Play Off finals.
Thompson was livid with some of the squad when they lost concentration in Saturday’s 5-2 defeat at Nottingham Panthers. But 24 hours later in the second leg of the quarter final, that same team crushed Panthers 5-1 - and the boss said he was proud of his men.
Asked whether some of the skaters had redeemed themselves, 24 hours after the initial set-back, he replied: “We haven’t won anything yet, we have got to the final four. We will see how we do next week.” He then confirmed contract extensions were often determined by title wins.
Thompson admitted the “focus wasn’t there” at the start of Saturday’s game but had returned for Sunday’s overtime win.
“We have outplayed Nottingham pretty much all year, apart from the Christmas games. The belief from that, hopefully, will spur us on. If we play with that attitude and application...it’s easy, when you play like that. I am proud of everyone of them.”
Thompson had special words of praise for three workhorses, Markus Nilsson, Jonathan Phillips and Guillaume Desbiens. “They go out there and do what you ask of them, they don’t switch off, they carry out the plan. That is why they are invaluable players for our club.”
He said Desbien’s series-winning goal was “what dreams are made of...that is why you are in this sport.”
The management are now focussing on the next opponents, Belfast Giants at the NIC on Saturday, in the semi-final.
“I’d love a play off win, but we have got to play like they did on Sunday” he said.
Games against Giants had been “pretty tight” all season, he said. “It’s two great skating teams, it will be one hell of a game again.”