Chris Lawrence is aiming to rise to the challenge to make himself indispensible at Sheffield Steelers.
The six feet four inches Canadian forward put in a dominating performance on Sunday in Sheffield Steelers’ 6-4 win at Nottingham Panthers.
In doing so, he may have solved the conundrum of which player is best to centre on-form wingers Rob Dowd and Levi Nelson.
Coach Paul Thompson has tried Tyler Mosienko, Jeff Legue and Fredrik Vestberg in that position, but it has never quite clicked in the way he had hoped for.
Yet it had been 28-year-old Lawrence who had been dropped as the “spare import” on Friday night, when Steelers pipped Coventry Blaze by one goal at Sheffield Arena.
Thompson said: “When I told Chris that he was back in the line-up I also told him that he should make it impossible for me to drop him again.”
“He was probably our best player in the win at Nottingham, he lets the wingers do their thing, is defensively responsible and brings size up front.”
Thompson had to leave import Legue out, but said: “This was all about the numbers game - Jeff is a quality hockey player and will earn his chance back in the line-up, just as Chris did.”
Another player to bring size to the forward line is Guillaume Desbiens, who scored the match-winner at Nottingham in only his second outing with the club.
Fans will warm to his no-nonsense, up-and-down winger style.
While Steelers have struggled to find consistent form, last weekend’s results certainly has powered them in the right direction.
As well as gaining maximum points themselves and depriving the league-leading Nottingham of a point, second-placed Cardiff Devils were beaten 4-1 at Coventry Blaze and are now on a three-game losing streak. Belfast Giants have also had two consecutive losses. Steelers have moved up to third place.
The forthcoming weekend sees them play bottom side Blaze, who are now showing signs of a revival, and the first meeting of the campaign against Fife Flyers.
n Panthers coach Coach Neilson praised Sheffield for their winning performance at the NIC, saying: “They worked hard, they earned their goals and they played a good road game. Give my team credit too...they never know when to quit. We’re still a great hockey team, we’re in a great position and we’ll keep getting better.”