Home comforts boost Steelers ahead of testing road trip
COACH Paul Thompson hailed his Sheffield Steelers’ team for their robustness on home ice as they prepared for their latest European test in impressive style.
Former NHL forward Andrew Deveaux enjoyed a memorable Sheffield Arena debut as he scored once and added an assist in a feisty 3-1 win over Manchester Storm, a result that saw the Steelers emerge from their Chal- lenge Cup Group A campaign and into the quarter-finals with a 100 per cent record.
Coming three days after an 8-2 thrashing of Dundee Stars at Ice Sheffield it understandably sends the five-time Elite League champions over to Denmark for the Continental Cup in buoyant mood.
The South Yorkshire club head to Scandinavia on Thursday to prepare for the first of three matches in as many days, starting with an encounter against Belarus side Yunost Minsk the following night.
Games then follow against Latvia’s Kurbads Riga and hosts Rungsted after which the Steelers will hope to have qualified for the next stage in January.
Success early next year would then bring a return to the Champions Hockey League and emulate last season’s exploits of archrivals Nottingham Panthers, who qualified for Europe’s premier club competition through that route.
“That is four home games out of the last five that we’ve won and where we’ve only conceded three goals, so I’m pretty happy defensively with how we are moving forward,” said Thompson, who will have talented forward Colton Fretter back for Friday after serving a six-match ban.
“In the second period we got a bit sloppy and our puck management wasn’t very good and we were giving too many pucks away. But special teams win you games and we had two powerplay goals from five chances and we had a 100 per cent penalty kill again.
“I forgot it was Deveaux’s Arena debut – he’s played over at Ice Sheffield a couple of times. He’s starting to come now and we’re starting to see his real abilities.”
A 15th-minute powerplay marker from Levi Nelson was all that separated the two teams at the end of the first period on Sat- urday. Storm levelled through Ciaran Long at 33.50, only for Andreas Jamtin to restore the hosts’ advantage 38 seconds later.
Deveaux’s powerplay strike in the 48th minute then gave the Steelers the insurance they needed to cap off a scintillating group campaign.
Thompson said he hoped to have Mathieu Roy and Jonas Westerling back in contention for Friday after both sat out Saturday’s encounter.