Ben’s men must keep their nerve

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Sir Alex Ferguson calls it “squeaky bum time.”

It’s the Manchester United manager’s way of describing how teams and players must hold their nerve at the business end of the season.

In ice hockey, it’s squeaky bum time for Ben Simon and his Sheffield Steelers.

They scraped two points in a 4-3 win at Newcastle Vipers on Sunday, despite the Geordies reducing the scoreline to a single margin with less than two minutes to go.

Now coach Simon has to be sure his team can show similar control in the final two games of the league season, away and then at home to Braehead Clan, next weekend.

Simon believes the team picked up some questionable habits in the 20-20 tournament at Nottingham last Saturday and says they must be eradicated before they play Clan and go into the Play Offs.

Referring to the Newcastle win, he said: “Two points at this stage of the year is critical. They (Vipers) have a pretty proud team, I think they had 12 skaters and took us to the last minhute, I have a lot of respect for them. We had some very good shots, their goalie played very well, but we did make some plays that made it hard on ourselves, and you can’t do that against good teams.

“You don’t want to get into bad habits that linger and fester.”

Simon said that while they had “a little bit of fun” in the 20-20 and they “didn’t really focus as much as we should” and some of those habits carried over into Whitley Bay.

But as far as the last two games were concerned: “We are going to take it one period at a time and work on winning each shift.”

Great Britain Head Coach, Paul Thompson has announced a 34 man squad - including Sheffield Steeldogs netminder Ben Bowns - ahead of two internationals against the Netherlands and the World Championships in Kiev, Ukraine in April.

The squad will be trimmed to 26 players who will take part in the Netherlands games, after which the team of 23 to travel to Kiev will be confirmed.

Netminders: Ben Bowns Steeldogs), Nathan Craze (Belfast Giants), Tom Murdy (Coventry Blaze), Stephen Murphy (Belfast Giants)

Defencemen: Russell Cowley (Coventry Blaze), Danny Meyers (Nottingham Panthers), Ben O’Connor (Morzine, France), David Phillips (Toledo, USA), Kevin Phillips (Braehead Clan), Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils), Mark Thomas (Sheffield Steelers), Graeme Walton (Belfast Giants), Tom Watkins (Telford Tigers), Jonathan Weaver (Coventry Blaze)

Forwards: Greg Chambers (Coventry Blaze), David Clarke (Nottingham Panthers), Robert Dowd (Sheffield Steelers), Robert Farmer (Coventry Blaze), Mark Garside (Belfast Giants), Jason Hewitt (Sheffield Steelers), Phil Hill (Cardiff Devils), Brent Hughes (Dundee Stars), Jeff Hutchins (Edinburgh Capitals), Robert Lachowicz (Nottingham Panthers), Marc Levers (Nottingham Panthers), David Longstaff (Guildford Flames), Lee Mitchell (Hull Stingrays), Matthew Myers (Nottingham Panthers), Greg Owen (Coventry Blaze), Craig Peacock (Belfast Giants), Jonathan Phillips (Sheffield Steelers), Colin Shields (Belfast Giants), Sam Smith (Cardiff Devils), Ashley Tait (Sheffield Steelers), Matt Towe (Guildford Flames).