Sheffield Steelers suffered two beatings in Scandinavia last week, yet are optimistic ahead Sunday’s clash with the Finns who beat them 3-0 on their own ice.
So how can a team, also whupped 9-1 in Gothenburg eight days ago, turn things around against JYP Jyväskylä this weekend? Steelers’ own spin doctor Dave Simms pens five reasons why Sheffield can do just that.
Paul Thompson: If Steelers are to beat JYP a lot will be down to the work Thompson has already done. One of his strengths is preparation. He is meticulous. Thompson was adamant last Sunday that for the final 50 minutes Steelers were the better side and that they can take points off JYP at home. There will be no better prepared team than Steelers come Sunday.
Tyler Plante: Showing the kind of form that excites fans. What impresses me is his rebound control; pucks don’t leave that big frame, they stay stuck inside the big man. Watch how quickly Plante moves post to post. Sure Steelers goalies of the past have moved equally quick but they have been the smaller goalies, (O’Neil, Bronsard and Laing.) Think of the big goalies, (Dopson and DeCaro) – they were not as quick.
Rob Dowd: I knew under Thompson we’d see the best of Dowd, I just didn’t realise we’d see it so quickly. Against Braehead he showed signs of the old Dowdy, chasing down pucks, an aggressive live wire. The Dowd, Duco and Nelson line is going to be crucial to us this year.
He knows it’s delivery time, a lot is expected but no one puts demands on Dowd more than Dowd himself. He wants to be “the go to guy” and he can show that on Sunday with a moment of brilliance that can turn the game.
New professional mentality: Our people don’t accept mediocrity. Professionals, off the ice a new assistant coach, strength and conditioning coach and trainers. On the ice, experienced players who have played at higher levels and are ready to put that extra shift in to win. I’ve never seen such a well organised, professional training camp and road trip.
Bull Dog Spirit: And I don’t just mean Jason Hewitt, but let’s use him as an example. A player that plays with great passion and commitment. Hewitt is just one of 22 who think and play like that. They are ready to do whatever it takes. Colton Fretter told by the doctors not to play at Frolunda. He got out of bed having not eaten, not skated and gave all he had – and scored Steelers’ goal against one of Europe’s toughest opponents. Jeff Legue blocking a shot that shattered his knee protector, despite the pain, given the chance not to continue he plays through, hardly able to walk the next day but he wouldn’t let his team down. Jonathan Phillips elbowed at full speed in the face - he didn’t know if he was in Finland or Foxhill – but he played on. This Steelers team has incredible desire.
If Steelers are to create history on Sunday night then the Bulldog spirit will be needed and will be there.